Reprinted From The Weirs
Times by Roger Amsden News Correspondent
WEIRS BEACH - It has been a year of progress for the Lake
Winnipesaukee Historical Society, which opened its museum
featuring the history of the state's largest lake to visitors
for the first time ever in 2004.
And even bigger things are in store for next year when
the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary says Society
president Beth Lavertue, who is back greeting visitors after
having recovered from fractures suffered in a late summer
Lavertue has been providing tours of the museum on Mondays,
Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and says that
she is looking forward to seeing even more visitors in 2005.
"The museum is looking better every day, both inside
and out," says Lavertue, who is pleased with the new
siding, new roofs and shingles and new windows which have
given the exterior of the building an attractive new look.
Lavertue says the exterior work has brightened the appearance
of the former Dave O'Shan homestead and made it more noticeable
from the highway. In addition to the new siding and roofs
over both the main building and porch, the society's sign
next to Rte. 3 has been updated to reflect the fact that
the museum is now open and another sign has been added near
the entryway at the rear of the building.
The new sign hangs from a piece of history, the front davit
from the Old Mount Washington, which was recovered from
Lake Winnipesaukee in 1985 by Tim Lawton and led to the
formation of the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society.
Tim's dad, Bob, said that his son also recovered other
historic items while scuba diving in Weirs Bay, including
a window and the anchor from the steam barge "Dago,",
which sank during a cyclone on July 4, 1913.
"We thought that these should be shared with the public
and that's why we started the historical society. We had
a long-range goal of building a museum. It's been a struggle
to get to that point but we're now entering our 20th year
and have accomplished that goal, something we're very proud
of" says Lawton, who is chairman of the board of directors
of the society.
Tim is a Master Pilot operating a tugboat out of Fort Pierce,
The davit is now firmly anchored beside the museum and
has been weatherproofed and painted and displays a sign
directing people to the museum's entryway.
Inside the museum building the downstairs of the former
farm house has been transformed into a showcase of Lake
Visitors can see a 44-inch-long scale model of the Old
Mount Washington made by one of the nation's premiere cabinetmakers,
Gregg Perry, as well as an organ which once was used on
the Mount Washington II and many historical photos and artifacts
relating to the lake.
"It's really appropriate that we should have a model
of the Old Mount Washington as a centerpiece for our museum
collection," says Lavertue, who still remembers when
the historic vessel burned on the night of Dec. 22, 1939,
in a fire which started in the railroad station at the Weirs
and spread to the ship, which was tied to the dock.
The 187-foot long sidewheeler had a 42-foot beam and a
draft of eight feet. It's 510 tons were pushed along by
a 450 horsepower one-cylinder steam engine. The cylinder
had a diameter of 42 inches and a 10-foot stroke, which
is reflected in the ups and downs of the famous walking
beam which transferred the power to a shaft which turned
The Mount was built by the Boston and Maine railroad and
became a Lake Winnipesaukee tradition and a nationally recognized
symbol of the Lakes Region.
Lavertue says that large display cases donated to the museum
by the Laconia Public Library are now being filled with
artifacts and the museum's walls are filled with historic
photos and posters, with the display area having been enlarged
by the removal of several older windows.
A life-long resident of the Weirs, Lavertue, 87, is a tireless
collector of memorabilia, artifacts and postcards and is
like 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.