WARREN — This small town tucked into the White Mountains is looking for some financial aid to spruce up its outsized municipal landmark — a Redstone ballistic missile.
Sited on the town green since 1971, Warren's Redstone was brought here by the late Henry "Ted" Asselin, who, while in the U.S. Army, was stationed at the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.
One day, Asselin, who died in 2013, inquired about the surplus, 83-foot long Redstone rockets lying around the base and was told that he could have one as long as there was no cost to the Army to move it.
With some friends, Asselin succeeded in bringing a Redstone to his hometown, making Warren the only town in the entire United States to have one, said Don Bagley, the president of the Warren Historical Society.
The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord has a replica of a Redstone, as well as an exhibit celebrating Alan Shepard, a Derry native who became the first American in space thanks to a Redstone launching rocket. Only Warren has a genuine Redstone missile, which is now seriously due for some cosmetic maintenance, Bagley said.
In its time in Warren, Bagley said, the Redstone has been painted three times and now needs another layer of specialized, and expensive, two-part epoxy paint. The hope is also to install a layer of reinforcing bricks around the missile's concrete base, which has begun chipping.
"We need to raise probably $6,000 to $7,000 more than what we've got to do the restoration work and the repainting of the missile," said Bagley, adding that the society would hire a contractor and not try to do the work itself.
"We were hoping to get it done in 2013 because the town was 250 years old, but the funding just didn't come together," he said.
Bagley and the historical society are determined to line up the funds in 2014 and have the missile looking spiffy in time for Warren's Old Home Day celebration, scheduled to take place July 11-13.
"If we have to go out and beat on doors, it's going to be done this year," said Bagley, who encouraged anyone who'd like to make a tax-deductible contribution to send it, payable to "Missile Fund, c/o Warren Historical Society," to him at 251 Pine Hill Road, Warren, 03279. Bagley also welcomed e-mail inquiries to The5ds2002@yahoo.com.
Bagley helped repaint the missile the first time, was out of town the second, and now, "at nearly 66 years of age, I'm not really willing to climb a ladder," he said with a laugh.
Warren's Redstone, Bagley acknowledged, has had a colorful history.
"Back in the early 1980s, there was a group in town that thought it was a symbol of war and all that other stuff," Bagley recalled, with an attendant fear that the missile's presence would result in Warren being targeted by the then USSR.
One person suggested donating the missile so that it could be transformed into a culvert or a feed trough for animals, another that it be given to the town of Derry to honor Shepard, but in the end, "a bunch of us got together and said we'll keep it in Warren," said Bagley.
With the 1992 closure of the Morse Museum, Bagley said the town's visitor-drawing cards have been reduced to a state of New Hampshire fish hatchery and, of course, the Redstone.