A Cupola and a Mural
The historic brick middle school, previously located on Main St. in New London, NH, was brought down at the start of the 2017-18 school year. All that remains is the cupola and a mural painted in 1942 titled, “Procession of Youth,” by then Colby Jr. College Art Instructor, Francis Sumner Merritt, who used egg tempera on plastered concrete. The mural portrays two local youth, a young woman, said to be Winnie Grant and a young man, most possibly Walton Chadwick, walking barefoot up the knoll of a hill. Behind them is the First Baptist Church, a view of the now demolished school building with the area's iconic Mt. Kearsarge standing guard in the background.
The old Kearsarge Middle School building stood empty and alone for eleven years. Many past students tried to find a solution to breath new life into it and give the old building a face-lift. In the end, the interior was unhealthy and the expense attached couldn't be justified.
Past students of the school banned together, as many locals do around here, appealed to SAU 65 for the cupola, and the mural, and then to the town for the monument's location. Devotees of the project raised approximately $15K while others donated their services. Ironically, the cupola has found rest behind the memorial to past school Superintendent Tom Brennan, who spearheaded the controversial relocation of the middle school from New London to Sutton in 2005. The mural was brought to The Ice House Museum, around the corner from its first home.
In a disposable world, focused on minimalism, it's a true testament to the dedication Kearsarge Region locals have for their heritage. Today, August 24, 2018, four days before the start of the 2018-19 school year, nearly one year to the day after the mural was removed from the condemned 1941 school, the cupola has crowned the monument that will stand to honor the old New London Middle School, and the many that benefited from the knowledge transfer beneath it.
"Procession of Youth" by Francis Sumner Merritt, 1942