LACONIA — Members of the Lakeport Community Association gathered at Wanda's Park in Lakeport Square Tuesday morning to thank the Clark family for the return of a historic water trough which since mid summer has been on display at the park.
Community Association president Armand Bolduc said that the ceremony had been arranged so that members of the Clark family, currently living out of state, could attend and see the watering trough in its new location near the flagpole in Wanda's Park, where it is now a colorfully decorated planter.
He said that trough, which had once stood in McGrath Square on the west side of the bridge, was identical to another which had been located on the east side of the bridge near what is now Torrey Park. the location of the second trough is still unknown. Both were installed in the mid-1800s.
For years the watering trough stood in front of the Harold Tefft house on Elm Street in Lakeport, according to Ginger Tefft Ryan, vice president of the Community Association, who says that she can remember seeing the trough in McGrath Square right up through the mid-1940s, but that it disappeared shortly after World War II.
She said that the watering trough was finally located when she and Charlie Hopkins were going through the postcards at the Community Association's museum in the late fall of 2012 and she pointed out a 1903 postcard to him, showing the trough in what was then Franklin Square. It was renamed McGrath Square in honor of Earl McGrath, the first Laconia soldier killed in World War I.)
''Charlie said that he knew exactly where it was and that was in a field in Gilmanton,'' said Ryan, who later visited the Clark property in Gilmanton, bringing the postcard along with her, where she met Roger Clark, whose parents Al and Helen Clark, had owned the farm on Currier Hill Road, also known as Old Belmont Road, where the watering trough was found.
She said that it was through the Clark family that she was able to learn what had happened over the years to the trough.
''After it left Lakeport it went to the Norman Hubbard Farm in Gilford. Hubbard was a Belknap County Commissioner and friendly with my father, who later served on the Laconia City Council,'' said Ryan.
Ryan said that the watering trough remained at the farm until the property was converted into a golf course, now Pheasant Ridge, in the early 1960s.
''Apparently Hubbard gave it away or sold it to Al Clark and it had been in Gilmanton for over 50 years,'' said Ryan.
After the Clark family agreed to give the watering trough to the association and receiving permission from the City of Laconia to install it in Lakeport, Councilor Armand Bolduc and long-time association member Robert Fortier took on the task of moving it last summer. Roger Clark and his neighbor Woody Wilson used Wilson's tractor to dig up the trough, whose base was virtually buried, and lift it into Bolduc's pickup truck. The trough was then taken to Lakeport, where it was unloaded by the Laconia Public Works Department.
She said that Charlie Beede sandblasted the black coating off of the trough, which was then painted white with all of its trim done in black by Mike Plunkett of Midnight Express Painting. The paint for the project was donated by Sanel Auto Parts. Brenda Moulton and Doris Milo planted the flowers after the base of the centerpole was installed by Hewitt Welding.
Roger and Liz Clark brought their mother, Helen, now a resident of Genesis Healthcare, to see the through and she said that she was delighted to see the transformation.
Also taking part was Caroline Clark of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Helen's daughter-in-law, who said that she could remember seeing the water trough at the Clark farm for years and who said that she thought that the new location is picture perfect for a unique bit of Lakeport history.
Ryan said that work on the trough will continue with a post being welded into the middle of the trough which will hold a sign which reads McGrath Square and a formal dedication will be held.
A watering trough which once was in McGrath Square in Lakeport has been brought back to Lakeport from a Gilmanton farm and has been restored and will be used as a planter. Taking part in a ceremony at Wanda's Park in Lakeport are Councilor Armand Bolduc, president of the Lakeport Community Association and Helen, Roger and Caroline Clark. (Roger Amsden photo/for the Laconia Daily Sun) .