Park in North Conway NH
By vote of Conway Town Meeting of 1924 the $3000 bequest of
Dr. James Schouler was used to buy this land from the Boston
and Maine Railroad. It was deeded to the town on express condition
that it be used only for the purpose of a public park, and named
by petition of citizens in 1961.
has taken 15 years, but persistence has finally won. This week
or next you will see a sign in Schouler Park
(pronounced Skooler) which will let people know it is Schouler
Park, not the village Green, or the Common, or the Boston and
Maine Park, or the North Conway Park.
It all began back in 1961, when the road around
the park was being widened. It had no official name then; people
usually referred to it as the station road. I though it was
a good time to have it given a name of some significance, and
I discussed the issue in my inklings column in the Reporter.
I suggested Norcross Circle or Crescent, because S. Girard Norcross
had been a teacher in the old North Conway Academy, which stood
about where the community center now stands, and had served
as chairman of the school Board, an office which he made essentially
that of the first superintendent of schools. He worked indefatigably
to improve the schools. Another name I suggested was Schouler,
also connected with the area, for Doctor James Schouler in his
will had left money for buying the park. Incidentally, I wonder
how many people know that Seavey Street derived its name from
the fact that the Boston and Maine Railroad or rather, the Great
Eastern Railroad, has originally bought the Seavey Farm on the
west side of Main Street.
I asked for expressions
of opinion about a name for the street, and for suggestions
of other names. The response was almost equally divided between
the two names I had suggested, possibly somewhat in favor of
Norcross Circle because it was easier to spell and to pronounce.
However it then occurred to me that the park had no official
name, and it seemed rather silly to call it the Boston and Maine
Park when it no longer belonged to that Railroad and there were
no longer any Boston and Maine trains.
So instead of getting signers
for one petition, I prepared two; one for Norcross Circle and
another for Schouler Park, and obtained many more signers than
required for both. In Due time I received a letter from Selectman
Joe Dodge, informing me that both names had been accepted.
For Quite a time no sign
was put up for either the Street or the Park, and I kept providing
the selectman. Eventually they put up a sign for Norcross circle,
and the name was quickly accepted, but they insisted that the
park commissioners, not the selectman, were responsible for
putting up the sign in the Park.
It took considerable time
and effort to find out who the Park Commissioners were, and
when I finally found the chairman he refused to do anything
about putting up a sign because he did not like the name Schouler
Park; he preferred to call it North Conway Park. I pointed out
to him that weather he like the name or not, that is the name;
that he had the privilege of getting up a petition to change
it, but until such a petition is accepted by the selectman its
name is Schouler Park. I object to calling it North Conway Park
because of the confusion of giving the same name to two different
places. For quite a time before and after 1900, “North
Conway Park” referred to the race track, with grandstand,
where the airport is now.
The matter was rested thus
for a long time. A little progress was made when I became a
member of the municipal budget committee in 1967 and insisted
that the park should be given its proper name when money was
raised and appropriated for it. Ever since then it has received
its proper name in the town report, and every year I was on
the Budget Committee I received a considerable chaffing.
Last year I went to the
selectman’s meeting in the interest of a member of the
Swett family who was perturbed because the street sign misspelling
Swett Street had recently been put up. Some discussion of the
street signs ensued, and there was some banter about my persistence
in regard to Schouler Park. I was pleasantly surprised to have
Town Manager Arthur Seavey promise me that he was going to put
up a sign for Schouler Park. There were several reporters present,
and they have used the name many times since.
Recently Mr. Seavey did
me the courtesy of asking me to choose the position of the sign
and to provide the historical information to be put on it. The
foundation has already been placed in the ground; the sign has
been built, and is now being painted with this information:
Now you might like to know
something about Dr. James Schouler, eminent jurist and author.
It is very appropriate that then name should be perpetuated
in the town, because Dr, Schouler was a public benefactor in
many ways. He was one of the directors of the North Conway Library
Association when it was founded in 1887, and served as its president
from 1900 to 1917. He himself gave 100 books to the small collection
with which the library started and did the actual purchasing
of books for many years. In 1905 he gave the money for the lot
on which the present library building stands; and in 1911 another
gift of his was the money necessary to erect the first building-
the section of the present building which now forms the reading
room. He donated $75 dollars to the fund raised for buying Cathedral
Ledge, to prevent it from being quarried in 1899, and another
$75 the following year to buy White Horse Ledge; and he was
the one of the committee of eight that arranged for making these
ledges a permanent reservation for the benefit of the public.
He took an important part in the coaching parades that played
such an important part in North Conway from 1890 to 1896.
From the Irregular,
October 11, 1977