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Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society
Set to Mark 20th Year

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 fall.

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, Florida.

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 Winnipesaukee history.

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 paddlewheel.

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.



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