Published DateLACONIA — The Belknap Mill unveiled a new logo Thursday afternoon which Executive Director Andre Paquette says reflects an attempt to create a new vision of the historic 1823 mill as the cultural arts center of the Lakes Region.
''We want it to be known as the place where art and history come to life,'' said Paquette, who said that the mill is working in cooperation with the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Belknap Economic Development Council to help develop the idea of a Creative Economy and enhance the economic benefits that arts bring to the area.
He said that the Belknap Mill Society's board of directors sees the mill becoming the hub of arts and history activities in the Lakes Region and in the process becoming the catalyst for renewal of Downtown Laconia.
Paquette said the Mill Society is also working with the Laconia Historical and Museum Society and other non-profits, as well as those places where art is exhibited and sold, to create an environment in which art and history can thrive.
''We want to reinvigorate both of the mill's museums and develop electronic guides to them,'' said Paquette, who said that mill is also working with the New Hampshire Humanities Council to bring a series of three writing workshops to the area on those interested in family memories and history.
He said that the mill is fortunate in having archival tapes from 122 people who formerly worked at the mill and that these are an invaluable resource. A history of the mill is also being written by Carol Anderson of Gilford, who has already published a history of Gunstock Ski Area and recently completed another book on Meredith artist Bob Montana, who created the Archie comic strip.
Paquette said the mill has also developed a fourth grade school program, titled My First Day of Work at the Mill, which runs from May 1 to June 7 and brings fourth graders from schools all over New Hampshire to the mill where they spend the day learning what it was like to work in the mill in 1918, when demand for its knitted socks for American soldiers in France was at its highest level.
The new logo, which was designed by graphic artist Dianne Amand of Moultonborough, features not only the mill and its historic cupola, but also the gazebo in the adjacent Rotary Riverside Park and the nearby Winnipesaukee River, which provided power for the mills for many years.
''It emphasizes that this is a very active spot in Downtown Laconia,'' says Kathi Hopper, marketing director for the mill.
David Stamps, treasurer of the Mill Society, said that gallery fees have been eliminated in an effort to make it easier for artists to exhibit their work. He said that last year the society completed a five year strategic plan and a three year development plan to guide the board in developing support, preservation and programming.
He said the mill recently received a $12,000 LCHIP grant for a cupola project which will cost over $30,000 and that the society has developed a maintenance program for the mill.
Built in 1823, the Belknap Mill is the official Meetinghouse of the State of New Hampshire and is the oldest unaltered brick textile mill in the entire country. It also houses the only industrial knitting museum in the U.S.
Belknap Mill Executive Director Andre Paquette and graphic artist Dianne Amand of Moultonborough hold the new logo for the Belknap Mill which stresses that the historic 1823 mill is ''the place where art and history come to life.'' (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)