New Sign Marks Belknap Mill Entrance

LACONIA — The Belknap Mill has a new, hand-crafted sign to the mark its entrance, courtesy of a group of local volunteers and Mill supporters.

Under the coordination of Tom Tardif, the team worked from an initial sketch to a finished sign embellished with wrought-iron and fixed between two granite posts. "It was a labor of love by all involved," Tardif said of the project.

Tardif's company, Lock 'N Load Systems LLC, provided most of the materials, with Gilbert Block offering the granite posts at cost and providing a boom truck to facilitate their installation. Mo Gouin provided the Louisiana cypress for the sign and did the carving.

"I started with the sketch," Gouin said, "and had to multiply the size by three. I then cut the lettering into plywood, and transferred that onto the cypress that I had brought up from the south." The sign includes the Mill logo, a representation of the historic textile mill that dates back to 1823. The sign is framed in wood and surrounded by the iron work of J.P. Hobby.

J.P. Hobby, who is a firefighter-paramedic with the Laconia Fire Department, has been doing blacksmithing since he was a child and, with his father, Russ Hobby, he took the concept for the iron work and created a design that would showcase the wooden sign. Incorporating the "BM" for Belknap Mill in a circle above the scrollwork, he forged a metal frame to surround the sign and hold it in place.

On one of the coldest days of the year, Gilbert Block brought in the boom truck to help place the granite into the holes Tardif had dug for the structure. The installation proceeded without a hitch.

"It was a pleasure working with all these guys," Tardif said of the project.

"I want to say thank you from all of the trustees for coordinating and building the new sign for the Belknap Mill," said Executive Director Denise Sharlow as she expressed her appreciation to Tardif for his continued support of the Mill.