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New Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society
President Eager to See Museum Open

Reprinted From The Weirs Times by Roger Amsden News Correspondent

WEIRS 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 Weirs area.

“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 its attractions.

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,” says Smith.

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 the museum.

“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 blindness.

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 transportation.

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.”


The Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society is a non-profit organization.