Reprinted From The Weirs
Times by Roger Amsden
BEACH - Beth Lavertue, new president of the
Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society, says
that she is hoping that the year 2003 will
bring fulfillment of her long-cherished goal
of seeing a historical museum open in the
“It’s something I’ve wanted
to see for a long time. So much of the history
of this area is being lost. We need a place
where we can preserve things so that future
generations can understand the past and cherish
their heritage,” says Lavertue, who
assumed leadership of the organization in
November following the resignation of Dr.
Bruce Heald, the organization’s president
for the last four years.
Lavertue, who was the organization’s
vice president and archivist, played a key
role in helping negotiate the purchase of
the former YD Cabins property two years ago.
The former O’Shan homestead is now in
the process of being turned into a museum.
“It’s been a long struggle but
we’re finally getting closer. The day
we open the museum will be the happiest day
of my life,” said Lavertue, 83 years
old and a lifelong resident of the Weirs.
A tireless collector of memorabilia, artifacts
and postcards, Lavertue is something of a
walking history book with her intimate and
detailed knowledge of the Weirs area, the
people who lived and worked there and of all
From her Fernside cottage on Lakeside Avenue,
she has witnessed the colorful history of
the Weirs and knows by heart virtually each
and every building in the area, who lived
there, what the people did and where their
children and grand-children now live.
“Beth has been a great resource for
us and a real inspiration,” says Brendan
Smith, who says that he is looking forward
to the day when she will be able to cut the
ribbon opening the museum.
“We’re getting there, slowly but
surely. Acquiring the property was a major
step and now we’re looking at making
another leap forward,” said Smith.
He said that the last two years have seen
major improvements to the property, including
the recent conversion of a former six-unit
motel into offices for the Weirs Times, which
leases the space from the historical society.
“That was a major step and fulfills
one of the conditions that allowed us to obtain
a mortgage on the property. Having a long-term
tenant improves our financial situation and
will enable us to concentrate on getting the
museum ready to open as soon as possible,”
He said that the society, which to date has
raised most of its funds through twice-weekly
bingo games at the Funspot Bingo Hall, is
looking for additional assistance in opening
“We were very fortunate to have received
a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor which
enabled us to complete the purchase two years
ago. Since that time we have hooked all of
the buildings to the city sewer system, installed
new water lines, done a lot of electrical
work and landscaping and are reconfiguring
the interior of the homestead for use as a
museum. But all of this costs money and takes
time. We’ve been paying down the mortgage
as we go along but that really limits the
amount we have available for the work that
needs to be done in order for the museum to
open,” says Smith.
He said that the YD Cottages were developed
by David O’Shan, who also ran a poultry
business at the site. O’Shan, who served
with the Yankee Division during World War
I, suffered injuries from poison gas employed
by German forces which eventually led to his
A long-time state legislator, O’Shan
was known as by just everybody in the state
as “Mr. Veteran”. He devoted his
life to helping disabled veterans and their
families, serving 14 terms as a state representative
from Laconia and was chairman of the House
Military Affairs and Veterans Committee.
O’Shan developed the cottages as a tourist
site during the 1930s and installed gasoline
pumps and a small restaurant near the main
building where breakfast and lunch were served.
It was a popular tourist spot during the years
leading up to World War II and was sold by
O’Shan to Irving and Winnifred Winder
in 1941. It was one of a number of cottage
developments in the area which was built in
the 1930s and represented an important social
trend in the country, the working man’s
vacation, which coincided with the automobile
supplanting railroads as the major form of
New vice president of the Lake Winnipesaukee
Historical Society is former Weirs resident
Gerry Brunelle, who recently moved to a new
lakeside setting on Squam Lake in Center Harbor.
Brunelle, an artist and musician, is noted
for his hand-carved canes and walking sticks.
At the conclusion of the annual meeting held
at Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith Brunelle
presented Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society
founder Bob Lawton with a handmade beech walking
stick in honor of his contributions to the
Weirs and the Lakes Region.
Lawton said that he regretted Dr. Heald’s
decision to retire and praised him for his
past efforts on behalf of the organization.
“Bruce’s shoes will be hard to
fill when it comes to history,” he said,
adding that the society and the Weirs Times,
where Heald was a regular contributor, will
be taking a new approach in the future.
“We’re going to be asking all
of the historical societies in the state to
help us out in answering readers’ questions.
And we’re going to encourage them to
submit original articles and photos to us.
There are many people who love New Hampshire
history and know the history of their home
town very well. We’re offering them
a forum that will reach over 30,000 people
each week and let them tell their story to
readers all over the state.”