If we can define a town by its boundaries, boards, committees, ordinances, and-yes-tax bills, how do we arrive at the measure of a community? One could say that community is the sum of all the things the inhabitants of a town do that they don’t have to! Our town is just as surely defined by all of the individual acts-whether in full view or privately shared-of kindness, generosity, and dedication performed by its residents, as it is by the common metrics of size, population, or budgetary factors.
One such community activity has a pedigree that reaches across the years. The greening of the Lord’s Hill bandstand is a sometimes stealthily executed tradition that nevertheless is always noticed and appreciated by those of us living in the neighborhood and those passing through during the holidays. Currently Emelyn Albert marshals a crew to decorate the tree and bandstand, but she has a story to share of her involvement, and how she inherited the Christmas candle.
The bandstand on the Parade Ground was constructed, as best as we can tell, in 1880. At this point in time the Tavern opposite the Bandstand was run by Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Leavitt 2nd as a boarding house commonly known as the Green Mountain House. At the home diagonally across route 153, heading down the hill, J.M. Leavitt, a doctor who cared for many local people and trained numerous colleagues, was likely just beginning his practice. These two men and their families were probably involved in establishing our bandstand, and stand as middle mile markers on a long road of Leavitts in Effingham-beginning with Captain John Leavitt, whom our “Plantation” was original named after, and continuing through one Larry Leavitt, Jr., the last named Leavitt to live in the Doctor’s home and be put to rest in the family tomb across the road.
Larry Leavitt held for some years a tradition of providing and decorating a Christmas tree in the Bandstand for the enjoyment of the community. Since history is fueled as much by supposition and speculation as by the vital or random passages that arrive to future generations as fact, let’s assume that some of these trees might have come from his tree farm, itself connected to the earliest days of the land-grant Leavittstown Plantation. Larry Leavitt, himself a grandson of Doc Leavitt, passed away just shy of Christmas in 2003.
In the fall of 2004, Emelyn Albert was passing through the village, riding with George Mueller, formerly a Selectman in town, and George, noting the darkened bandstand, suggested that a tree be placed in Larry Leavitt’s memory. He provided tree and lights and Emelyn engaged the help of Pat Parker and Janet Normandeau to decorate. Thus a tradition was passed and reinvigorated. This trio faithfully completed the chore each year, and soon were doing it with George Mueller in mind following his passing. This year we can thank Emelyn, Nancy Goodreau, and Virginia Wrabel for their trek up the Hill from the Huntress Bridge neighborhood to green our Bandstand. Jack Williams assists, and Pat and Janet are still on board in taking the tree and window box greens in after the season passes.
This is one story among many, each and all contributing to the story of a community. As with many traditions, it survives with a blend of obligation to those who are no longer with us, and a continual and expanding inclusion of new participants who hear the call, and see the value in building a shared inheritance. Best wishes and many thanks to our greening crew, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season to all friends and neighbors of the Meeting House.
We would love to hear of any anecdotes our friends may have to add to the story of the Bandstand. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with memories or photos you may have!
A Mountain Comes into View
Those of us who live in Effingham know how prominently Green Mountain figures in daily life. Any trip of length between two points in town will involve reckoning with the mountain at the center of our township. Our location and our destination being two points on the hem of a garment, we have to decide which is the quicker path between them. The mountain is therefore never far from mind, but for certain spots in the Lord’s Hill neighborhood it can recede from view in spring when budding leaves join buildings, topographical contours, curves in the road and general busyness in obstructing a clear sightline.Then comes fall, and amid dropping leaves and browning grass, we suddenly notice its almost looming presence. Thanks to wetlands to the north and west of Green Mountain, and its long-sloping sides, the Lord’s Hill viewshed is both intimate and close. The view revealed through the Meeting House windows, across the Lord Tomb and Josiah Dearborn house to the mountaintop, is ready-made for contemplation.
The following is an excerpt from a small book of writings by Emma Cowan Dearborn (1892-1987), entitled Contemplations of a Green Mountain Girl. Emma was a sister to Richard Dearborn, the last Dearborn descendant to occupy the Josiah Dearborn house; she was the youngest of eleven siblings, born to Samuel Quarles and Emma Nichols Dearborn over a period of 24 years. The book was published by her family following her death.
The mountain has a formal “map name,” Green Mountain, but locally and familiarly, and almost affectionately, it is referred to simply as “The Mountain.”
It is totally corralled by our town of Effingham, New Hampshire, and, perhaps in geographical retaliation for its confinement, it dominates the town from all angles.
Yet it is a gentle, unforbidding height, spreading arms from south to north, there to stop by the Ossipee River. This point was called “the spur,” and in early days of the town settlement was narrowly cut off in the building of a road to provide communication with the part of town known as “back of the mountain.
Tall trees march up the skylines of the two slopes, like opposing armies determined to occupy the height. But fear not, United Nations is in command there, so to speak, and the top is cleared of trees to provide unobstructed view from a fire watch tower. So the two armies will never meet.
The mountain marks the seasons. In summer the sun sets late behind the far end of the northern slope, and travels, so it seems, past the height, to set in the winter behind the far south end.
Clear, or hidden in mist, clothed in delicate green, or glorious in fall foliage, The Mountain is a very intimate part of life in Effingham.
On June 7th you may have heard the sound of the Meeting House bell ring throughout the hill, and perhaps beyond. The annual history tour for third graders at Effingham Elementary School wound up with each student having the chance to ring the bell. Eric Potter and Erik Jones once again led students through the many stations of historic Effingham.
It was perhaps also a chance for the rest of us in earshot to ponder a time when the peal of a bell carried information to the neighborhood. Whether confirming the start of a known event or announcing urgent news, our Paul Revere bell has served to connect inhabitants of the village to its ongoing story.
We are beset by tones and beeps of all sorts these days. They are all contrived to serve a need, but they are so ubiquitous and impersonal that we are numbed in contrast to the unique and richly compelling sound (and feel) of a bell resonating obediently with the message of the human tethered to its grasp below.
Thanks to all members, bakers, helpers, and yard sale participants for helping to produce our successful day on May 26th.
Our group relies on the faithful commitment and participation of many in the Lord’s Hill and Effingham communities.
Thanks in part to this stable base of support we have been able to contract the painting of the steeple. More details to follow.
We are currently working with our generous partners at the local greenhouse to put together a list of hanging baskets, geraniums, and herbs to stock our very popular Annual Plant Sale. Once finalized, the order form will be available here on the website, and will be distributed to our members and friends. If you would like to be sent a form, please email us at: email@example.com, and we will send one to you as soon as it is ready.
This year the sale is Saturday, May 26th from 9AM-1PM. There will be a few items available for sale at the time, but the majority will be pre-sale orders. Don’t miss out by forgetting to order!
Thank you for your interest in and support of our community treasure, as we work towards painting of our steeple in the coming season. If you are able to bake something for the bake sale also held at the time, we appreciate all donations. Please plan to join us for coffee and baked goods.
The Lord’s Hill Meeting House is currently seeking bids for Painting of our steeple and belfry. Please review the Bid Document for details. We look forward to beginning planning and work on this important project.
- We are excited to be bringing a new dimension to our Meeting House as we launch an online presence to help preserve this wonderful space and share its beauty and history with those in our immediate community and beyond!