Raymond Historical Society raising money to restore iconic rail depot
RAYMOND - In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Raymond was a destination town for many city dwellers looking for respite from the summer heat.
Resort homes and inns dotted the waterways and bystreets of town, girls and boys spent weeks at summer camp on Onway Lake and archived newspapers document the comings and goings of families and friends from all over.
Long before highways, it was the Boston & Maine Railroad that delivered visitors to town via the train depot on Main Street.
The depot that stands today was built in 1893 — after the great fire of 1892 that destroyed most of the downtown buildings — and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Trains have long since stopped coming to Raymond, and the resorts and inns are also gone, but the train depot remains.
Since 1973, it has been cared for by the Raymond Historical Society and houses much of the town's history, from artifacts to binders full of historical documents.
But the building is in disrepair, and the society has started a fundraising effort to restore the exterior paint, fix the roof and conduct some other needed work ahead of the town's 250th anniversary celebration next year.
Members of the society feel the depot, one of few public historic buildings left in town, will serve as a centerpiece during the celebration while drawing locals and visitors alike interested in the town's history.
"With or without paint it will be a big part of the celebration," historical society member and lifetime Raymond resident Sally Paradis said. Paradis is at least the third generation of her family to live in Raymond.
Recently, the society sent out an appeal to members and soon the appeal will be broadened to include former Raymond residents and others.
An anonymous donor has agreed to match any donation of $50 to $250 through the end of the year.
The 250th anniversary celebration will be held September 13-21, 2014.
Anyone wishing to contribute to restoration project can mail a donation to Raymond Historical Society, P. O. Box 94, Raymond, NH 03077.