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Barnstead, Chichester, Epsom, Gilmanton, Northwood, and Pittsfield NH

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Front Page News

June 17, 2015


F.P. Green Bandstand In Need Of Repair

Submitted By Larry Berkson

Pittsfield Dustin Park Green Bandstand With Prople.jpg

The other day at our weekly noon lunch, one of our colleagues remarked that the bandstand in Dustin Park was in need of repair. He was born and grew up in the building next door called the “Beehive” so had considerable interest in it. Subsequently, four of us went for a look and, indeed, found that it could use some tender loving care. Because it is an important part of Pittsfield’s history, I thought it might be a good idea to explain the bandstand’s significance to newcomers to the community.


In 1873 a local merchant and head of the Merrimack Brass Band, Herman Greenleaf, made an offer to play free concerts if a bandstand was built in what was then called Academy Park. The money was raised, the stand erected, and the first concert given in June 1874. Concerts continued regularly until about 1887 and sporadically thereafter. In 1911 and 1912 Sherburne J. Winslow, head of the Pittsfield Aqueduct Company, paid for the town’s well-known American Band to play a series of concerts there. 


By 1917 the old wooden bandstand had become dilapidated and the following year a new one was erected by Contractor J. H. Wood at a cost of $1,000. Franklin Pierce Green, New Hampshire president’s namesake, owner of the Pittsfield Shoe Company which employed over 200 people, and a man heavily involved in lumbering operations, donated the money. Mr. Green was also a director of the Pittsfield National Bank, Farmers Savings Bank, and Pittsfield Savings Bank. At the time he had been affiliated with several local bands for over 20 years. 


Octagonal in shape, the bandstand was made of fieldstones and cement. A Japanese pagoda roof supported by eight colonial pillars covered it. Interestingly, Pittsfield Power and Light immediately electrified a light above and lights below the roof. 


Clifton Smith directed concerts there from then until 1930. They were sponsored by the town in amounts ranging from $100 to $200 annually. Nathaniel Drake also made substantial donations to the band over the years. After Conductor Smith retired, Arthur F. Nevers led a series of summer concerts using remnants of the American Band and players from his own band in Concord.  


In the spring of 1937 George E. Freese, Jr. organized the Pittsfield Boy’s Band and it became a mainstay of concerts in the park until World War II. After the war it was revived and its name was changed to the Pittsfield Community Band, playing until 1960 when due to dwindling membership it was discontinued. 


Throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s concerts were attended by several hundred people with popcorn being sold by the American Legion next to the Beehive during the early years. Colonel J. Frank Drake annually sponsored many of these concerts. 


In 1982 the Freese Brothers Band was formed and began playing in the park. They became an important part of the community’s fabric and still play today but, unfortunately, not in Dustin Park.


In November 1977 tragedy struck the bandstand. Vandals cut the columns and felled the pagoda roof to the ground. Two youths were charged with the nefarious deed and when brought before Judge Giddis he was so enraged that he required $2,000 bail in CASH! They were convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail with nine months suspended and two years of probation. The bandstand was rebuilt and after several renovations stands there today. 


For many years now, the bandstand has been used only occasionally as when the Shaw Brothers played there during the grand opening of Frank Lyman Park in 2000 or at times during Old Home Day. It might be nice to revive the tradition of having four or five concerts during the summer as Barnstead does.


In any event, the bandstand is in need of repair. On one of the columns the graffiti needs to be covered with a new coat of paint. Two or three of the columns need new bases similar to the others. Repair work also needs to be completed on the light fixtures. As owner of the park it is the town’s responsibly for its upkeep. To encourage the selectmen to take an interest, an individual has already pledged $1,000 to the project. Perhaps others will join in.






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