Lakeport Freight House museum now open
LACONIA — After 15 years of preparation collecting artifacts, photos and stories of a time long past, the Lakeport Community Association hosted the grand opening of the Lakeport Freight House Museum Saturday in the facility at 15 Railroad Ave.
Dozens of Lakes Region residents toured the new museum, replete with photos, clothing and other artifacts of the rail era in Laconia.
Early in the program, Claire T. Clark serenaded visitors were serenaded by a quartet of women who also sang an original poem, written and set to music by Claire T. Clark, resident of the Black Brook section. Clark accompanied her poem with a guitar.
The museum has been 15 years in the making as the Lakeport Community Association has been accumulating items by raising funds from yard sales filled with donated items from individuals who wanted to help create an homage to an important piece of Laconia's history.
City Councilor and Lakeport Community Association President Armand Bolduc said, “We're showing what took place here since the 1900s when this used to be a busy rail station. It was a very busy terminal here and we're just trying to show the public.”
Joyce Messer of Weirs Beach said she loved the museum, and that while she was there the museum volunteers led the museum crowd in a rendition of “I've been working on the railroad.”
“Everyone should come and see the museum,” Messer said, “They are the nicest people in there, and they are recognizing people from long ago, it is marvelous everyone should come and see it.”
State Executive Councilor Raymond Burton also attended, saying, “The point is preserving a whole era for people to enjoy. This will also help people in the future who want to do research on that time period, so they can find out what Lakeport was like in the railroad era. I commend everyone who did this.”
Nancy Lamarche of Laconia brought her 13-year-old son Chance to the museum because Chance is a huge fan of trains.
“He was very excited to see this, Chance's father actually used to unload watermelons from boxcars when he was a kid. I know a lot of local hard work went into this and I am glad to see it open,” Lamarche said.
Bruce Reynolds of Meredith was glad to see the museum open, calling it wonderful, but added, “it's a shame they couldn't save the (passenger) station, I guess there is only so much that they could do.”
Lakeport Community Association Volunteer Dorothy Duffy said she was glad to see a focus being put back on Lakeport, saying the area, which is between Laconia downtown and Weirs Beach, “has the best food in town.”
Duffy added it was very gratifying to finally see the museum open after 15 years spent by the association raising the money needed to purchase the museum items, and fix the building, along with all the time and effort that went into making it happen.
Despite the fact that the museum looked very much completed, Bolduc said that it is only “99 percent done.”
According to Bolduc, association members will still have to raise money to equip the building with a dedicated phone line and Internet access. Bolduc also marveled at the fact that despite a few private donations, the yard sales held over the years selling donated items was the main source of funding for the museum.
Burton added that the museum was a great place for people who have memorabilia from the rail era of Lakeport and don't have a place for it but don't want to throw it away. Now, he said, they will have a place where they can donate their materials and rest-assured they will be appreciated.
There were even several people at the grand opening who brought old memorabilia to donate or for Bolduc to look at, including photos, others just old rail magazines.
Burton added that the museum would be a great place for Lakes Region schools to bring classes so that students can understand that before the Lakes Region was a tourist hotspot, it was also a very important industrial hub.
For Bolduc and the rest of the Lakeport Community Association, the opening of the museum meant that the last 15 years spent gathering money and materials for the project were not in vain, and will mean something not only to them but to future generations as well.
Anyone who wants to visit or donate to the museum may contact the association at 524- 7683 or write them at P.O. Box 6015, Lakeport, NH 03247. For more information visit www.lakeportcommunityassociation.com.