American Legion Bandstand
American Legion Grounds
Built - 1934
Known as one of the crown jewels of the Massachusetts coastline, Rockport is, and always has been, known as a quiet seaport town of many shops and artists' galleries on Bearskin Neck. The town is steeped in rich seafaring and art history and has had that same quiet charm now as when it did when grandmother visited the town as a little girl enjoying the miles of immaculate beaches and paths through woods and glades. Many famous painters have either lived or visited the town to create magical masterpieces of the harbor and town and its lighthouse and sea spray.
Along with the enjoyment of its artists living and working in the area, Rockport residents and visitors have been inspired musically as well by its famous community band called the Rockport Legion Band. Records show that the band's first public appearance was on Memorial Day 1933 two months after its first formal meeting on the Legion Grounds which faces the beach and harbor, and a magnificent spot for their concerts. This long-standing group of dedicated individuals meet one night a week throughout the year for rehearsals to prepare for their summer concerts, parades during holidays and other special civic events.
In those early days, it was evident that the band would need a permanent structure on the Legion Hall grounds, so through a combined efforts of the American Legion Post #98 and the Board of Selectmen, an appropriation of federal funds was received for materials and labor costs to build a bandstand in 1934, Rockport's first.
The architectural firm of Kendall & Young designed the structure from preliminary drawings of then Director Ernest Nelso who supervised the work being assisted by stone masons John Anderson, Frank Oga and John Huttunen, with Nestor Bawler and John Peterson as mason tenders. The seven polished tablets about the base and of which are still intact, however now illegible, were procured from the trustees of the Rockport Granite Company. Two hundred and twenty five tons of stone were quarried from the pit off Stockholm Avenue in Rockport in accordance with the plan to sink the foundation four and a half feet below ground level and four feet in circumference above with the intention of having the bandstand on a very solid base for lasting strength which is obvious since the bandstand has withstood the sometimes severe New England weather.
The structure itself was built by W. A. Sewall and Waino Saari assisted by John Borgstrom, Fred Full, and other Legionaires who were accomplished carpenters. Electrical work was done by the brothers Nelson and Donald Poole.
On July 22, 1934, on a Sunday afternoon, dedication ceremonies were held which ended up becoming one of Rockport's great days!!! At anchor offshore was the Battleship Mississippi, then one of the largest in the Pacific Fleet, commanded by Captain Sam Colby Loomis, who together with Congressman A. Praff Andrew, participated in the parade and ceremonies. The band from the ship and the Legion band vied in a program of patriotic music. A large crowd, along with representatives from the state and town government, were present to hear Legion Commander Jim Reilly, deliver the dedication address.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY:
Arthur R. Erickson, American Legion Member