On Saturday, August 11th, Meredith, New Hampshire was bustling with activity for the 250th Anniversary of the town’s founding! A traditional Main Street Parade was held to celebrate its history and heritage. Thousands turned out for the festivity, which featured over sixty groups with floats and marchers including local businesses, civic organizations, school and community bands, non-profits and many vintage vehicles! Some special participants were the Grand Marshal, Marjorie Lee, 89, who retired after 65 years as an educator, 28 of them at Inter-Lakes High School. She rode the one-mile parade route in a white 1968 Mustang convertible. New Hampshire restaurateur, Alex Ray, pedaled a high-wheel antique bicycle and Mill Falls owner, Rusty McLear dressed as the famous comic book character, “Archie”, in homage to its creator and Meredith’s own, Bob Montana. Earlier in the week, a life-sized bronze sculpture of the character was unveiled in one of Meredith’s parks!
Annalee Dolls participated in the parade too! We decked out a 1931 Ford Model A Coupe with Annalee elves, Santa, Mrs and reindeer! Annalee’s son and local icon, Chuck Thorndike, rode in the car and greeted spectators with that famous Annalee smile! The car was driven by its owner Randy Mardin of Campton, NH, who is also the husband of long time Annalee employee Sheila Mardin.
A statue of the comic strip character Archie sits on a park bench, created by sculptor Valery Mahuchy, as it was unveiled in Community Park, Meredith, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, as part of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration. Archie illustrator Bob Montana lived in Meredith for 35 years and worked many local residents and scenes into the comic strip until his death in 1975 at age 54. Posing with the statue are Montana’s children, Paige, Donald, Raymond, and Lynn. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun via AP)
HISTORY OF OUR GREAT TOWN
Meredith was first known as Palmer’s Town in honor of Samuel Palmer, a teacher of surveying and navigation who laid out much of the land surrounding Lake Winnipesaukee. In 1748, it was one of the first towns to have a charter granted by the Masonian Proprietors. Many grantees were from Salem, Massachusetts, so Palmer’s Town was renamed New Salem. It was settled in 1766 by Jacob Eaton and Colonel Ebenezer Smith, then regranted in 1768 by Governor John Wentworth and named after Sir William Meredith, 3rd Baronet, a member of Parliament who opposed taxation on the colonies.
Farmers grew corn, wheat, rye and potatoes, but the area became noted for apple orchards. The outlet of Lake Waukewan provided water power sites, and by 1859 Meredith village had a sawmill, gristmill, shingle mill, blacksmith shop, harness-maker’s shop and tannery. Situated at the outlet of Wickwas Lake, Meredith Center had a sawmill, gristmill and blacksmith shop. Connected by the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad in March 1849, the town became a summer resort. Passengers also arrived from the Alton Bay depot aboard steamboats, the most famous of which was the original SS Mount Washington, launched in 1872. Meredith remains a popular tourist destination.
UPCOMING 250th ANNIVERSARY EVENTS
Digging Into Native History: Aug. 16, 6:30 p.m. N.H. Humanities lecture with Robert Goodby. Meredith Public Library.
The Changing Role of Agriculture: Sept. 4, 7 p.m. Steve Taylor, former N.H. commissioner of agriculture, and John Moulton, owner of Moulton Farm, will present. Meredith Community Center, 1 Circle Drive.
You Know You Are in New Hampshire When…: Oct. 2, 7 p.m. John Clayton, host of N.H. Crossroads, Union Leader columnist and author of You Know You Are in New Hampshire When… will present. Meredith Community Center, 1 Circle Drive.
Perspectives of Meredith: Nov. 6, 7 p.m. Fritz Wetherbee will present. Meredith Community Center, 1 Circle Drive.