LACONIA — An antique dealer who purchased a 63-year-old city plaque was reimbursed Friday and the marker has been protected for public display.
The bronze marker hung near an outside door at the old Lakeport Fire Station since it was built in 1955.
It carries the words, “City of Laconia, Lakeport Station.” It also names the mayor in 1954, Gerard L. Morin, and the one in 1955, Bernard L. Boutin. It also names nine city councilmen and Fire Chief Merle B. Sargent.
Earlier this year, the tarnished marker disappeared.
The late City Councilor Armand Bolduc, who was a member of the Lakeport Community Association, often saved Lakeport-related items for display at the association’s museum in the old Lakeport freight depot.
Bolduc died on April 1, about a month before partial demolition began on the fire station, which will have a new life as part of a boat showroom now being built around it.
The plaque fell in with items that were sold at a yard sale at Bolduc’s home after his death.
Antique dealer Mike Garneau was one of the early customers at that sale and noticed the plaque.
“I’m a picker,” he said. “I see it leaning against a wall in the garage and said, ‘What about this?’
“I thought it had something to do with the Lakeport Train Station and wanted to get it to Charlie.”
Garneau bought it for $100 and showed it to Charlie St. Clair, who owns the downtown Antique Center, where items are sold on consignment. St. Clair refused to sell it, even though he says it could have gone for $250.
He sensed it should be returned to the city or remain on public display.
“It was commemorating the opening of the Lakeport Fire Station,” he said.
Local historian Warren Huse learned of the situation and advised Mayor Ed Engler, who spoke with St. Clair. Engler and St. Clair made sure Garneau got his money back. There was no cost to the city.
On Friday, Garneau gave the plaque to Engler, who gave it to St. Clair for delivery to Huse and the Lakeport Community Association, which maintains a small museum near the remains of the old fire station.
Armand Bolduc was a big supporter of the Lakeport area and a driving force in trying to preserve the old fire station, a plain, utilitarian, brick structure that nevertheless means a lot to some local residents.
“Knowing Armand, he thought the plaque would be lost to history and wanted to protect and preserve it,” Engler said. “Armand was that way. If he thought it was historic and neglected, he and his buddies would save it.”
St. Clair said it’s only right that the marker will be preserved and displayed for the public.
“It has come total circle,” he said. “Armand preserved it and now it’s protected.”