Photos and memories of the old Colonial Theatre wanted


LACONIA — Sonya Misiaszek and Rob Turpin, the architects at work to restore the Colonial Theatre, are seeking assistance from members of the public by sharing their photographs and memories of the theatre that shed light or offer clues about about its structure and appearance.

"The Colonial Theatre has had several lives over its history," said Turpin. He said that the Laconia Historical and Museum Society has provided has provided many images, most of them of the stage and lobby. But, the pictorial record of the seating, foyer, box office, concession stands and so-called "back of the house," which housed the dressing rooms and where sets and props were stored, are scarce. Misiaszek added that photographs of Canal Street, where the entrance to the stage is located, and the neighboring businesses would also be useful.

Misiaszek said that a photograph of a recital or a parade may provides clues to the past appearance of the theater. "We may find a decorative element that is no longer there or information about furnishings like carpeting and lighting," she said. She noted that images of both the interior and exterior of the building would prove useful.

Apart from the restoration, Misiaszek said that preparations are underway to list the theatre on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that requires extensive documentation of its architectural and decorative features. Lynne Monroe of the Preservation Company of Kensington, who has worked on a myriad of projects, including the Music Hall in Portsmouth, is gathering the evidence to support the application.

At the same time, Turpin said that the Groundroot Preservation Group of Cape Neddick, Maine, which is acting as conservator for the project, is collecting and analyzing samples of the paint and materials used in the theater over the years, which will provide the basis for preparing the specifications for the restoration. He said that Steven Mallory, the conservator for the project who most recently managed the restoration of Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate in Virginia, can determine not only the materials used to construct and decorate the theater but also the techniques the artisans, craftsmen and tradesmen employed.

Turpin pointed out that when the theater was divided into a multiplex with five screens the owners, Lawrence and Patricia Baldi, took care to minimize the damage to the building. Moreover, decorative plaster features that were removed were stored in the basement and remain in a condition that will enable them to replicated.

When the project is complete, Turpin said, "it will not be the Colonial Theatre of 1914, the year it was built." Instead, he explained it will blend elements than span its history, all historically and aesthetically significant, but nevertheless what he called "a conglomeration." It will not be restored to a specific date, he said, although every effort will be made to recapture the original coloring and imagery. For example, Turpin noted that the marquee and blade, the vertical lighted sign reading "Colonial," dates from the late 1940s or early 1950s, when the theater became a cinema, yet it will be restored.

Misiaszek said that within the historic preservationist community "The prospect of restoring the Colonial Theatre has been on people's radar for a long time. Everybody is very excited about this project." She stressed that any image of the theater, even those that appear mundane, could prove valuable to the restoration process. Likewise, she encouraged anyone with vivid memories of the appearance of the theatre to put them in writing.

"This is a way for the people of Laconia to feel part of the process," she said.

Photographs and information should be submitted to Justin Slattery, executive director of the Belknap Economic Council who can be reached at 524-3057 or 383 South Main Street, Laconia, NH 03246.

Hundreds take part in annual POW-MIA Freedom Ride


GILFORD — Hundred of motorcyclists gathered in the parking lot at Lowe's late Thursday afternoon to take part in the 23rd anniversary of the Northeast POW/MIA Network 's Freedom Ride.
Among those taking part was Dave Haskell of South Tamworth, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps reserves and as a heavy equipment operator with the U.S. Army. Haskell said it was his 14th year taking part in the Freedom Ride and that he makes the ride in order to raise awareness that there are still prisoners of war and service members missing in action "who haven't come home and are not accounted for."
Karen Thurston of Gilford, president of the Blue Star Mothers of New Hampshire, said that organizers were hoping to top the 1,000 mark in riders taking part in the event. "It brings to light the fact that a lot of bikers are veterans and have the same goals."
She said that one of her sons, Sgt. Alexander Thurston, is currently serving in Jordan with his National Guard unit and that she is appreciative of the support shown by motorcyclists for military families.
She said that the Rolling Thunder is playing a major role in organizing the Freedom Ride and over 60 of its members were taking part in this year's ride, which takes cyclists to Hesky Park in Meredith, site of the state's original POW-MIA Memorial for the 28th anniversary of the vigil held by the Griggs-Wyatt Post American Legion for POWs and MIAs.
Dan Pendleton of Brookline, who is president of New Hampshire Chapter One of Rolling Thunder, which is based in Epping, says that he and his wife met while they were serving in the Air Force in the late 1980s and that they feel a deep commitment o the families of those in the military.
Another rider was Stephen Cantelli of Rochester, who spent two years in Vietnam as a combat engineer. Now employed as a home inspector, he says that it is important to keep faith with those who have served their country.
Richard Downes, executive director of the Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs, was the guest speaker at last night's vigil. In Meredith. His father is still listed as an MIA from the Korean War.
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Hundreds of motorcyclists took part in the 23rd annual POW-MIA Freedom Ride which left the Lowe's parking lot in Gilford for a ride to the POW-MIA Memorial at Hesky Park in Meredith late Thursday afternoon. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Retired Chief Petty Officer Bill Rohr of Gilford salutes riders taking part in the 23rd annual POW-MIA Freedom Ride. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Vietnam veteran Stephen Cantelli of Rochester took part in the 23rd annual POW-MIA Freedom Ride. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

New Hampton firefighter dies after overexertion

06-15 Doug Clement

NEW HAMPTON — The town of New Hampton is mourning the in-the-line-of-duty death of firefighter A/EMT Douglas Clement who died in the early morning hours of June 14.

Fire Chief Michael Drake said Clement was on call at the time of his death and had participated in a rescue drill on June 13.

The fire department was called to his home at 5:24 a.m. for a medical emergency and Clement was taken to Speare Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy performed Wednesday morning determined the 43-year-old died from a cardiac arrest. The U.S. Fire Administration determined the cause of death was stress and overexertion.

Clement has been a member of the New Hampton Fire Department since 1997. He leaves behind four children.

— Gail Ober