GILFORD – Those passing by the restored Gilford Outing Club warm-up hut will notice something new in the landscape: a state historical marker commemorating the Gilford Outing Club. The marker has been a year in the making and was installed last week by the NH Department of Transportation (DOT), the organization that oversees the management of the state's historical markers.
The bright red building that sits on the edge of Cherry Valley Road served as a warm-up hut for Gilford Outing Club (GOC) members from 1946 until 1992. In 2006, Gilford teenager Sarah Anderson spearheaded an effort to restore the building. A number of individuals were involved with the restoration work including retired engineer Scott Davis, the Harry Bean family, Page Roofing, contractor Richard Moreau and several other volunteers.
Once the building had been reconstructed, Anderson felt that a historical marker would further preserve the club's history by educating the people as they read the marker's text. Last fall, Anderson and her family prepared the required application and petition signed by twenty citizens of the state. The documents were then submitted to the DOT for review. Since the amount of text allowed is limited, the Andersons worked closely with Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn, the Gilford Select Board, and former GOC members Penny Pitou and Marty Hall, Jr. (also both Olympic skiers) to ensure that the text on the marker was accurate and that it properly conveyed the true spirit of the outing club.
The DOT requires that, "text should stress why the subject is distinctive and significant to the state's residents and visitors and why it merits the special status conferred by a state marker." Once an application is received by the DOT, it carefully considers the historical significance of the subject and the suggested text. After review, the Gilford Outing Club and its history were deemed significant by the state, and once all parties had approved of the wording, the marker was ordered. Anderson then met with representatives from the DOT and consulted with Gilford town officials so that the placement of the marker would comply with state requirements for safety and road requirements.
The new marker is getting very positive reviews. Gilford resident and two-time Olympic Silver Medalist Penny Pitou is thrilled with its installation, especially since she trained with the Gilford Outing Club early in her skiing career.
"When I stopped by and read the new marker, I felt very proud to be a resident of Gilford. It also made me feel very honored to have been a part of this history," explained Pitou.
"The parents who ran the Gilford Outing Club gave us, through countless volunteer hours, opportunities that we would not have had otherwise. That is something that shouldn't be forgotten, and this marker will remind us - now and in the future," she said.
Anderson agreed, adding, "When we started this project, not many people knew what the Gilford Outing Club was and what it had meant to Gilford. Now with the marker installed people from Gilford as well as from other places can learn about the importance of the outing club and what happened at this site."
The cost of the marker was covered by private funds raised specifically for the warm-up hut project by Anderson and her family.