The Sea Shell
Hampton Beach
Built - 1962

Hampton, New Hampshire has basically stayed as the same quiet town over the past 100 years or so with a slight growth in housing units built and population directly after World War 2, but still has a very rich New England history. The town has always been downplayed by the importance of its beach due east of the town's center if you are coming north, a few miles from the Massachusetts border.
Hampton Beach, for over one hundred years. has been a coastal resort and playground for millions of people, mostly from all over northern New England and eastern Canada. Unlike the town itself, the beach has changed over the years once housing many hotels, casinos, dancehalls and other major attractions but today Hampston Beach bears little resemblance of what it used to be, clean and well maintained.
The old Hampton Beach Bandstand, built in 1899, was an extremely important structure and landmark on Hampton Beach. The "kiosk" was erected when the northern half of a new casino was built directly across the street. In the beginning of its existence, prior to the turn of the century, the bandstand was used only intermittently but after the famous Ocean House was built in 1901, the bandstand was used on more of a regular basis. From those early beginnings, Mr. Henri G. Blaisdell and his 20-piece band played for a week in the beginning of the summer, returning in August for 10 days and then back again on Labor Day. In 1902, after the south half of the casino building was completed, regular band concerts started and became a regular feature on every day of the summer season for over 50 years which was probably the only recreational community in the entire United States with so many band concerts due to the popularity and crowds the beach attracted.
In 1962, Hampton Beach's cherished bandstand was torn down since it evidently had been deemed unsafe after many years of service. The bandstand and remaining police station were soon replaced by a new beachside facility including a new bandstand and much needed public restrooms along with an observation area and offices. The Middlesex District Commission (MDC) oversaw this new $200,000 building project. The new bandstand (shell) was dedicated and named the "Sea Shell" of which design followed the band shell design of that period.
From that point on, the MDC has run summer concerts which have numbered into the 80s - nightly free concerts on the Hampton Beach Seashell Stage where now generations of families have been entertained by some great regional bands who normally perform two shows per night, along with a lot of other forms of entertainment. These concerts normally begin on Memorial Day with spectacular fireworks displays after the concerts on holidays and Wednesday nights during the summer months.

No comments: