LACONIA — The directors of the Belknap Mill Society invite the public to join in an official ceremony on Thursday, May 14 at 9 a.m. to be held at the Belknap Mill on Beacon Street. This celebration marks the return of the building's historic finial and weathervane and the long-absent stair tower flagpole.
The finial and the weathervane it supports are original features of the building while the flagpole was a later addition. The return of these iconic pieces to the Lake City's skyline complete much-needed restoration work to the cupola and dome; critically important to prevent water leaks that threatened the building's historic fabric and contents.
While undergoing cupola repairs to correct water leaks and a faulty roof, heavy rotting was discovered in the dome's finial. Grant funding for exterior rehabilitation of the iconic cupola and its dome was sought in 2012-2013. With grant funding provided by NH Land & Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the project of preserving this historic landmark was undertaken and completed by J.P. Paquette Construction of New London.
Paquette enlisted the assistance of Littleton Millworks in re-creating the finial and PLP Composite Technologies, Inc. to manufacture a new flagpole. The Belknap Landscape Company provided crane services. While the weathervane was in storage, Paquette took on the task of having it painted and is donating the gold leaf "to honor the long-standing, commitment and volunteer support of the Society by Margaret and Andre Paquette of Laconia, NH."
The Society's Managing Director, Beth San Soucie, said ''we are delighted to have the finial, weathervane and flagpole once again gracing the rooftop of the Mill; to see them as you make your way into the City showcases the historical importance of our community landmark.''
One of the first listed buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the Belknap Mill shows how preservation and history can combine in a community-based museum and cultural arts center. In 1976, the Belknap Mill was designated as the Official Meetinghouse of New Hampshire due to the architectural, geographical and historical significance of the building.