CLAREMONT — Residents and city officials gathered at Mountain View Cemetery on Wednesday to celebrate the restoration of the cemetery gates, commissioned by William Moody nearly a century ago, which went missing several years ago.
Public Works employee Norma Limoges, who spearheaded the project, told the Eagle Times that she discovered the gates near the facility about six years ago. After doing some research, she confirmed them to belong to the cemetery.
“I was taking a walk at lunch one day and saw some iron sticking out of the snow,” Limoges said in an interview with the Eagle Times before the ceremony. “I found the second gate wedged into a tree. I sensed there was something special about them.”
In 1923, Moody, a prominent industrialist and city benefactor, commissioned a project to install ornamental concrete and iron-wrought gates at the entrances to Moody Park and the four city cemeteries shortly after the death of his wife Mary.
Moody died two years later.
About 25 years ago, one of the pillars was struck, causing the entry structure to collapse. The gates were reportedly brought to the Public Works salvage yard, where they disappeared from memory.
With permission by the city council, Limoges embarked on a project to refurbish the gates and return them to the entrance of Mountain View Cemetery. The project cost $20,000, which covered a new engineering design, the refurbishing of the iron gates, repaving the entrance, and construction and placement of four concrete pillars.
The project also contributed a new flag pole along with a spotlight to light the national and state flags waving above.
Some of the project’s time length was attributed to a shortage of funding, according to Limoges. Limoges piece-mealed stages of the project from funds donated by local fraternal groups, private foundations and individuals.
But, it was only more recently when the remaining funds came via a “sizeable donation” from William, Lloyd, Robert and Barbara Wood, the grandchildren of former city mayor and longtime state Sen. Marion Phillips.
“I don’t even know how they knew about the project,” Limoges said. “But they are the ones whose donation pushed it forward.”
Robert Wood, who attended the ceremony, said he came across the project in an article writeup.
The Wood siblings, who now live in the Lakes Region, still visit Claremont regularly. Robert Wood said the city “remains near and dear to them.”
“We are glad to see this come to completion, and that we’ll be able to enjoy these gates when we drive through,” Wood said.
The Phillips’ have a family plot at Mountain View.
Limoges also praised the unheralded contributions of Ted Wadleigh, the cemetery sexton. In addition to supervising the project, Wadleigh and his crew installed a 140-foot drainage system to remove standing water from around the pillars, put down new grass and installed a new flag pole.
“All that work is really what people never see,” Limoges said. “We look at the finished product, but we need to look underneath.”
Engineer Randy Rhoades, of M&W Soils Engineering, in Charlestown, provided the structural design, which detailed the placement of four new concrete pillars to hold two vehicle gates and two pedestrian gates. 3D Welding, in Claremont, sandblasted and mended the gates, which had several bent bars, according to Limoges. Redi-Rock, in Newport, constructed the concrete pillars, which Daniels Construction from Ascutney, Vermont, placed in-ground and attached to the gates.
The ceremony included a raising of the American flag onto the new pole by the American Legion Post 29, of Claremont, and the singing of the National Anthem by Stevens High School 11th-grader Alexandra Perez.