Masconomo Park Bandstand
Built - 1924
The historic coastal town of Manchester-By-The-Sea is a very quaint location which has always maintained its small-town New England charm though, at one time, wealthy urbanites built impressive summer homes along its shores. Manchester also boasts having one of the most picturesque harbors in New England which hums with activity all year long, especially during those peak summer months when many visitors engage in its beauty and enjoy the many fine restaurants and a variety of shops in its downtown area. As you travel north up the Atlantic coast from Boston, Manchester-By-The-Sea is the first part of Cape Ann to be reached and is said to have been home of some of the area's best mariners.
Years ago, the town decided to build a park overlooking their beloved harbor so on the inner part of the harbor, they had fill put in and named the area Masconomo Park. Here is where the Masconomo Park Bandstand sits proudly and has played host to many concerts and other events since 1924. Prior to this bandstand being built, the town enjoyed their concerts on the original bandstand which was located on the town common in front of the town hall which was used from the 1890s to 1920s, when it was deemed unsafe and demolished before 1924. At that time, town officials debated over the building of another bandstand on that same site since many argued that the location and acoustics were not always that good and that a new bandstand would better serve town residents and visitors in Masconomo Park. Cooler heads prevailed and the new bandstand has served the community since it was built on open land and the area could hold more people who could now find places to sit all around the structure. Its location also helped alleviate any traffic problems the old location had brought about during summer concerts.
When built, the total cost of the Masconomo Park Bandstand ran at $1,998 which included the construction at $1,809; the plans at $40; lighting at $85; labor at $38 and extra work at $27. The structure was built by local townspeople who were adept at such labor and who volunteered their services to the town thus keeping the costs down with a few professionals lending their expertise.
The bandstand was first used during the 4th of July celebration in 1924 and the grandest celebration held on or about the bandstand was during the town's 350th anniversary in 1995 which commemorated the arrival of Governor Winthrop in 1630 to the town on the ship Arbella. At that celebration, the key-note speaker was Senator John Kerry who gave a very rousing speech delighting the crowd of people in attendance.
The bandstand has seen many great concerts over the years most recently one given by Tom Rush and Livingston Taylor (Jame's brother). Numerous local bands have played on the stage as well as Children's Shakespeare Theatre summer shows, Boy Scout events and a few weddings. Since the town has a large number of "summer cottages" belonging to notable people in government, business and the arts, you never know who will show up at the concerts. Unfortunately concerts have dwindled to a lesser number over the years but plans are on to increase the number of performances throughout the summer since they have always been a popular draw in town.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY:
Esther Proctor, Archivist
Manchester Historical Society