LACONIA — Pat Tierney, the new executive director of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society, said he realizes he has a tough act to follow in replacing Brenda Kean, who last month left the position she held for three years to become activities director of the Taylor Home.
"She did a great job and always stayed on top of new projects that got a lot of people involved,'' said Tierney, who added he will continue with the projects she had worked on to make the society more visible in the community.
A 1970 graduate of Laconia High School, Tierney went to the University of New Hampshire where he studied theater arts and worked as a professional actor with New England Repertory Company. He even spent time in Hollywood before moving back to New Hampshire in the early 1980s and joined the Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth as a technical director and actor.
He retired in 2009 after 29 years as a diver for a contractors supply company and currently is a contract worker for the Actors Equity Association, a part-time position which gives him lots of time to devote to his new position.
"I'm looking to put in 25 to 30 quality hours a week, which is what the board directors tell me they want. We have a good proactive 16-member board which is really involved. It's a good team and we're going to make it work," said Tierney.
He's already brought honors to the city, having played a key role in a commendation Gov. Maggie Hassan made to the city in 2014 in connection with a research and lecture program of the LMHS dealing with the Laconia Grant of 1629 — a proclamation made during the reign of King Charles I of England which granted a large swath of land in North America to the Laconia Company with the intention of fostering a large settlement which would be known as the "province of Laconia."
The research by Tierney, a member of the board of directors of LMHS at that time, shows that the Laconia grant encompassed a large area 80 to 100 miles inland from the coast of what is now Northern New England. Tierney said the name Laconia most likely comes from Middle English and was used to designate an area containing lakes.
Tierney says that the name Laconia is emblazoned across a large part of New Hampshire and Maine in a map shown in Horace Scudder's 1884 history book "A History of the United States of America."
He said that the historical significance of use of the name Laconia seems largely lost for a long period of time and traces it in part to the English Civil War, which started in 1640 and pitted Royalist Anglicans against the Puritans and saw the beheading of Charles I in 1649 and the establishment of an English government run by Oliver Cromwell which attempted to change and suppress actions taken by those loyal to the king and during the reign of Charles 1.
It wasn't until 1660 that England reestablished the monarchy but many legal battles, which lasted until 1746, followed over the right to soil within the Laconia grant. He said that those legal battles with the heirs of the original proprietor John Mason also kept the Laconia name from common use.
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