NEW LONDON NH
The Mary D. Haddad Memorial Bandstand
Ausbon Sargent Common
Built - 1989
New London was granted its first charger in 1753 and named Heidelberg in honor of King George II's visit to his German possessions. It was granted another charter in 1773 as Alexandria Addition then to New Londonderry then shortened later to New London in 1775. The town has grown substantially over the years and is p;roud to be called the home of Colby-Sawyer College.
The town turned into a four-season playground. At the turn of the century, affluent city-dwellers spent entire summers in the area due to the spectacular scenery, beautiful lakes and many recreational activities. As travel improved, especially the railroad system, more and more people discovered the area which turned the town into a haven for vacationers and the development of first-rate grand hotels, and many new cottages being built in the town and the surrounding area. The fresh country air and wholesome environment was welcomed by these city people who were thirsting for a place to escape to.
As time went on, these summer residents remained due to the opening up of job opportunities in the area and the allurement that went with this good, clean country living. The hotels succumbed to either fire or decay as time went on and were torn down while these new residents winterized their cottages and settled in to enjoy the beautiful but sometimes severe New England winters.
Over the years, New London has evolved due to its increased popularity and while new homes, modern schools and medical facilities have sprung up, the residents were still able to preserve its historic rural heritae and a charming village life.
New London thus is a favorite stop for visitors while in the Lake Sunapee Region, especially on Friday evenings when the town is filled with people enjoying a summer concert on the common at the bandstand. Audiences are often upwards to 500 people, especially if the early evening is mild and pleasant.
The common area has been named the Ausbon Sargent Common in honor of the town's remarkable elderly gentleman who had purchased the Town Common from Colby-Sawyer College which sold the land to him out of financial necessity. Mr. Sargent placed his entire life savings into this transaction and stipulated that the only thing that could be built on this lush large green was to be a bandstand. He wished that when this structure was finally completed, that it be dedicated to his loyal friend, Mary D. Haddad, who had been Town Clerk and was beloved by the community.
With the land and the idea of a bandstand in place, a local resident, Mr. Steven M. Mendelson, assembled various friends of his within the community to set up a Bandstand Committee and public funding events prior to the project becoming fulfilled. After a lengthy period of time, and a number of fund raisers, including a glorious original musical comedy with a "Cast of Hundreds" along with substantial efforts to solicit funds from individuals, the necessary monies were obtained.
The bandstand was soon designed by the noted architect, Deirdre Sheerr, and bids put out for builders with the Pellerin Company getting the bid for the construction of the structure. The building process then began with the time element becoming a lengthy one although the builder did a good enough job. The townspeople agonized for months while the construction was taking place since they were anticipating the first concert to be held on July 2, 1989.
Finally that date came and, although not quite finished, the bandstand was "open for business" and a dedication concert took place with Haddad family members in attendance along with Father Robert T. Goodwin officiating and the members of the Bandstand Committee along with many townspeople and guests. A performance by the Hopkinton Town Band was given and three other subsequent concerts during the summer months on Friday evenings. In recent years there have been eight concerts scheduled during the summer season and each have become quite popular events for the locals, visitors and vacationers with large and appreciative crowds assembled.
The spirit of the concerts is upbeat and all in attendance enjoy the music as well as their picnic suppers while the kids frolic in the grass. The band members always enjoy the appreciative folks in attendance along with the delicious refreshments the Bandstand Committee members faithfully provide.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY:
Ruth M. Sisson, Chairman