Dedication of Veterans Memorial Gazebo to be held on  Monday, May 25, 2009

Volunteers made it happen


by Derek Dobachesky

May 24, 2009 — The Hopkinton Memorial Day celebration on Monday will culminate with a march from Mayhew St. to the town common for the dedication of a brand new gazebo, a march that is a metaphor for military procedure, as well as a group’s nearly two-year march to honor the town and its veterans as it had been done 20 years earlier.  Memorial Day Itinerary


Nearly 21 years ago, the Veterans Memorial Gazebo was dedicated on the town common. The project, which was first proposed in 1981, was spearheaded by Ernest Fecteau, who was a member of the Boston Athletic Association, treasurer of the Hopkinton War Memorial Building Fund and himself a World War II veteran. When Fecteau's daughter, Barbara Sicuso, speaks at the new Veteran's Memorial Gazebo's dedication on Monday May 25, 2009, it will end the first chapter of an effort to revitalize the town common, while maintaining important elements of its history.


“The first one was a community effort, the second one was a community effort,” Ruth Gorman, chair of Friends of the Common, said of the process behind the new gazebo's creation.


Friends of the Common, which Gorman founded in August 2007, was formed with renovation of the gazebo as its first priority. Nearly two years later, with the help of many members of the community, the Friends have achieved their first goal and more, having constructed a brand new gazebo with help from the Hopkinton Athletic Association, the Boston Athletic Association and numerous others groups and individuals throughout the community.


The new Veteran's Memorial Gazebo, glistening from top to bottom, retains not only the former's proper name, but the weathervane that rested atop it, and a granite plaque dedicating it to the memory of all veterans (Photo, above).


In addition, the front steps, as well as a hexagonal centerpiece on the floor of the structure, are made from granite that was saved as the original structure was being demolished, preserving not only the traditions of the original gazebo, but formidable, tangible pieces, too.


The Friends did not set out to build a new gazebo. Initially, the organization wanted to renovate the old one, primarily by repairing its roof. However, initial appraisals showed that there were ventilation problems in the basement which had resulted in the corrosion of the electrical components; and the height of the structure would have made compliance with the Americans with Disability Act difficult and costly. The old gazebo was 48” high, and a ramp would have required one foot of ramp for every inch of rise, making a 48’ ramp a visual distraction from the beauty of the original structure. A lift would have cost an estimated $20,000, another visual distraction.


“It was rotted. The weather had taken its toll. ... I don't think it could have been repaired,” Gorman said of the gazebo.


The new gazebo features a handicap ramp that winds around the bottom of the structure, which is significantly closer to the ground. It does not include a basement like the original one did, but on the upside, has a built-in outdoor Bose sound system — the donor wishes to remain anonymous — that can project at a 180 degree coverage over nearly the entire common.


Gorman estimates the final cost of the new gazebo's construction at around $50,000 — all of which was raised through private donations. However, this does not include all of the labor and materials that local businesses and residents have donated to the project.


Architect Scott Richardson of Gorman-Richardson Architects, and Chris Nation of 20th Century Homes, have estimated that the gazebo would have cost around $150,000 to build, including the costs of the donated labor and materials.


Gorman and the Friends raised funds for the project by selling T-Shirts and other goods at a PolyArts event, soliciting donations at events on the Common, sending out mailings soliciting donations from businesses and hosting a cocktail party. The cocktail party in particular was a success — the Friends raised $20,000 in one night at the event. Overall, hundreds of individuals donated towards the gazebo.


“We really feel like it was really a grassroots effort,” Gorman said.


Tim Kilduff, president of the HAA, also spoke of the gazebo and the process leading up to its construction. Getting the HAA and BAA on-board was not difficult, according to Kilduff, because of its placement on the Common in Hopkinton, where the Boston Marathon starts each year.


“The gazebo is an icon — it goes around the world,” Kilduff said. “There was no arm-twisting here — they just stepped right up,” Kilduff said of the HAA and BAA.


The new Veteran's Memorial Gazebo will be dedicated on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25 at noon on the Common, following a march from Mayhew St. to the Common which starts at 11:30 a.m.


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