Built - 1986
Needham, at one time, was recognized as a country getaway for well-to-do Bostonians living on Beacon Hill or the Back Bay and many large estates were built in the town in the 1800s as country homes for these wealthy people. Many of these homes are still standing and scattered throughout the town which has changed its image to more of a convenient suburban place for people working in the big city.
The bandstand in Needham's Memorial Park was built in 1986 by volunteers and overseen by the Needham Exchange Club through donations from citizens and businessmen in the community. There are no figures available on the cost of the project but the money has been spent well over the years since the bandstand has figured prominently in community events. In the months of July and August, the Needham Parks and Recreation Department holds the Arts in the Park which includes bands, trios and other entertainers on the bandstand. On Thursday evenings during the summer there are also programs for the children.
The bandstand is also used for Memorial Day and 4th of July exercises and other public events, some followed by fireworks displays. Two weddings have been performed so far on its stage, as of this writing, and it has been used as the starting point for the Walk for Cancer and the Ellie Bloom Olympics for retarded citizens. Also Senator Cheryl Jaques and Representative Lida Harkins have made appearances on the bandstand in the past.
Needham's only other bandstand was located in front of the Needham Town Hall and was built in 1911 for Needham's Bicentennial. The people of Needham donated the $800 to build that bandstand and the Needham Military Band took over ownership. As with other bandstands, it was mainly built to treat the townspeople to concerts on summer evenings with popular tunes, sentimental ballads and Sousa's marches resounding from the stage.
In 1924, the bandstand was moved to Memorial Park due to construction on the Town Green and was placed on the site where the present one now sits. The grounds keeper at that time, used to keep his lawn mower and under equipment under the bandstand which thus served another useful purpose. In 1935 the structure had to be torn down due to age and deterioration of the wood.
From 1935 to 1986 Needham would set up temporary bandstands for band concerts, beauty contests and other events until the present one was built.
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY:
John Logan, Veterans Officer