Bandstands and their histories is a hobby I have taken up for a number of years now and at this point probably have the largest collection of pictures, articles and memorabilia of our New England & New York bandstands. I have visited, photographed and written about over 400 of these structures. I have been to just about every corner and (middle) of our beautiful New England & New York areas seeking out these structures and have been to some very remote and quaint towns which I found to be very charming also in their own way. I suggest that you discover what I mean by once in a while getting off the highway and taking a rural back road to some of these wonderful cities and towns.
In researching the subject, I have looked extensively for any information on bandstands - in libraries, bookstores and on the internet and have been only able to find two sources on the subject. One is "The Oberlin Book of Bandstands" written by S. Frederick Starr which was published to commemorate Ohio's Oberlin College's School of Architectural Design, published in 1987 which deals in a purely architectural point of view of the structure. The other book was written by Barbara Merrill Fox of Bar Harbor, Maine entitled "Lest We Forget." Her book has much more information and keys in on past and current bandstands in her state of Maine. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Fox in 2004 and I found her to be very intelligent and interesting and who shared the same interest about bandstands as I do. I have a copy of her book and found it to be very informative with some great old pictures included and makes for a great coffee table book. You can purchase this book on-line.
Other than these two books, I have been unable to locate any other sources of reference material on the subject and found that even the great Encyclopedia Brittanica fails to have even the word "bandstand" listed anywhere in its many volumes. As a sidebar, I have learned that prior to 1860, the single word "bandstand" didn't even exist until well into the 1940s. Other names were given to the structure such as gazebos, summer houses, music stands, pavilions, grandstands and platforms. When I tell people that I have an interest in bandstands, I normally am questioned about what the difference is between a gazebo and a bandstand. Since nowhere in printed form have I found a clear distinction between the two, let me take the liberty to give you my own explanation. A gazebo is just an ornamental sitting place to have a cup of tea while enjoying the great outdoors while a bandstand has more of a far-reaching purpose as is explained in this section of my website. Even the smaller gazebo structure I feel can be construed as a bandstand if the community where it is located uses it as a sounding stage for community events or small-band concerts.
My drive to thus search out information to enhance this subject has thus been thwarted but also reinforced since nothing is evidently available for reference. I cannot believe that you can find 100 books on butterflies and lighthouses, but only the two listed on bandstands. What I have found out in my research is that the bandstand has been an integral part of our country's history dating back to the Civil War. Unfortunately however, over the years the importance of the bandstand has gone by the wayside. Community gatherings for concerts and other events in the parks and common areas of our country have diminished greatly for one reason or other along with many wonderful traditions. Thus the great importance of the bandstand is almost a thing of the past. Such activities on these wonderful structures should still be a very important part of our lives especially due to the many stressful events of our time. I hope to thus try an awaken communities and have them build or restore these bandstands and bring back those wonderful concerts and community activities once again via this website and/or of my publishing a book in the future. Thankfully, many communities still hold their bandstands in high esteem and have found that the initial investment in building their structure has paid off in great dividends over the years.
I believe that in our lives we should all take up a hobby or interest which can be construed as useful. I chose my interest and growing adoration on the bandstand, not for any monetary gains, but to just open peoples' eyes to their importance. Hopefully after reading my website, you will become more aware of such structures of which New England has a great abundance of probably because the concept of the "town common" actually started in this area when those hardy initial settlers of our New England region had the forsight to put aside land for the town's citizens and visitors to enjoy.
I do hope you enjoy my website and would appreciate any comments you might make and, by all means, if I have missed listing any bandstands, please let me know.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful and unusual website.

RAD's DINER said...

Your study of bandstands moves me in many ways - your love for the subject matter, a recollection of a different time, a sense of community, a non-electronic world, and more. I wonder if you would be open to a phone conversation - I'm a 60 year old married man who has a passion for roadside architecture, especially diners, and a myriad of other tastes that may overlap or connect with yours. I would far rather talk real time than send e-mails if you're open to that. Thanks...rad