News

Brookline Town History Committee formed

Friday, June 21, 2013

BY IRENE LABOMBARDE

Staff Writer

BROOKLINE – With the town of Brookline’s 250th anniversary in 2019 on the horizon, selectmen approved the formation of a Town History Committee in April for the purpose of writing an updated version of the town’s history.

This was last done in 1914 by Edward Parker.

The committee charter allows for seven members. Six of those have been named: Keith Thompson, chair, Steve Russo, secretary, Scott Grzyb, Peter Cook, Dan Marcek and Nancy Reinbold. An unlimited number of ad hoc members can be added so as the anniversary approaches, more volunteers can participate as needed.

Thompson said the committee is just getting started and is not certain how to proceed, whether to write as a committee or use a professional writer.

“We are looking at other towns through the New Hampshire Historical Society to see what they have done,” Thompson said. “There are 13 other towns having 250th anniversaries soon, so we’ll watch those.”

Among the treasures discovered when the police department moved to its new facility in April is a document dating from the 1780s relating to the rough draft of the first New Hampshire state constitution, and a program from the 1919 celebration of Brookline’s 150th anniversary.

That program, dated Aug. 29, 1919, was dedicated as a “Welcome Home to Soldiers and Sailors of World’s War.” There are some familiar names listed as participants, including Orville D. Fessenden, who was Thompson’s maternal great-great-grandfather, as well as a cousin of Dave Fessenden, current president of the Brookline Historical Society.

“I’m happy if it sparks interest in history and gets people going,” said Thompson regarding the relics, “but the focus of the History Committee will be the last century.”

Thompson also has a special perspective on recent town history since he was in Brookline for the 200th anniversary celebration in 1969. Although he lived in Boston at the time, he spent summers in town.

“I was 5 going on 6 and have very distinct memories,” he said. “I remember the village store decked out in bunting and a parade. My mom’s cousin owned an old fire truck and drove that in the parade. There were games at the ball field. The town hasn’t changed that much except there are 5,000 people here not 1,000.”

The Town History Committee meets on the second or third Monday of the month – whenever selectmen are not meeting – in the Town Hall meeting room at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public. Additional information on the committee is available on the town website at www.brookline.nh.us/town-history-committee.

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