LACONIA — When the editors of the NH Bar Review recently asked their members for examples of law offices located in historic buildings, they were overwhelmed by number of submissions they received. Attorneys from all over New Hampshire shared historical details, photos, and personal stories about the buildings that house their firms. Due to the volume, they were unable to include all these great buildings in their June publication, however, Laconia's Wescott Law, formerly Wescott, Dyer, Fitzgerald & Nichols, was one that made the cut.
Wescott Law has called the former Bowman Street School home since 1985. Built in 1852, it is one of Laconia's oldest buildings and was Belknap County's first brick schoolhouse. Originally a one-story structure, the Bowman Street School underwent its first renovation in 1874 when a second story was added.
The building served as a school until 1929 when it was condemned by the state and subsequently purchased by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which used it until 1952. It was then reacquired by the City of Laconia and put back into service as an elementary school for Laconia's south end.
In 1975, upon the opening of the new Woodland Heights Elementary School, a number of the older, smaller schools were closed and ownership of the Bowman Street School building reverted back to the VFW which made it available to various organization including Planned Parenthood, Headstart and the Laconia Senior Citizen Center. Upon the tenants' decisions to relocate, the building was purchased by the current owner, Bowman Street Associates, comprised of several of the attorneys of the then Wescott, Millham & Dyer firm.
"Several New Hampshire attorneys and firms have won awards for their stewardship and restoration of these historical places. Their preservation efforts promote the idea that New Hampshire's heritage and traditions remain vital parts of the state's identity, its economy and the 'New Hampshire Way' of practicing law" wrote Kristen Senz, Managing Editor of the magazine.
Today, the lobby of Wescott Law proudly showcases numerous photos taken throughout the building's history, as well as the original school clock that was presented to the firm by Helen Hill, the last principal of the Bowman Street School. The building receives daily compliments from clients, visitors and former students who appreciate its beauty and history as much as those who work within its walls.