Long before there was a Plymouth State University, the town of Plymouth witnessed many historical events and was home to many historic buildings. From famed orator Daniel Webster to poet Robert Frost to regional educational and business landmarks, Plymouth is part of an enduring historical legacy. But how many people realize that? In the culmination of a major collaboration to increase awareness of these sites, the Plymouth Historical Society, Plymouth State University and the Plymouth Cultural Commission have erected three markers on PSU’s campus marking the historic locations of important buildings.
The Robert Frost House, the Draper- Maynard building and Holmes Academy, the precursor of PSU, are all marked with historic signs signifying their history and importance. In a recent ceremony, PSU President Sara Jayne Steen and members of the Plymouth historical marker committee commemorated the newly-installed markers.
“This is a wonderful collaboration between the town and campus, allowing us to hold onto and honor the rich history of Plymouth,” says President Sara Jayne Steen.
“It’s a great example of the town and University working together to celebrate and identify our cultural past. History is always an important ingredient in community planning and understanding who we are, and where we’ve come from,” says the Historical Society’s Bill Batchelder.
The century-old Draper Maynard building is now home to PSU art exhibition space and classrooms, but it was once was a major sporting goods manufacturing plant. The Draper-Maynard Sporting Goods company was most famous for their baseball gloves, and once hosted the Boston Red Sox in a 1916 factory visit. One famous keepsake of the visit is a photo of Babe Ruth sewing a cover on a baseball. Ruth endorsed D&M equipment throughout his legendary career. The company went out of business in 1937 after over sixty years of manufacturing.
The site of Holmes Academy is between Town Hall and the Silver Arts Center. Holmes Academy was chartered in 1808 by the New Hampshire legislature, to “promote religion, virtue and literature.” Holmes Academy operated on this site from 1826-1841. In 1870, lawmakers again chartered a new educational institution, and Holmes Academy became the Plymouth Normal School. The Normal School was replaced in 1939 by Plymouth Teachers College, which subsequently was renamed Plymouth State College in 1963. After approval by the University System of New Hampshire, the name Plymouth State University was adopted in 2003.
Members of the town’s historical marker committee include Bill Batchelder, Cam Sinclair, Elsa Turmelle and Katherine Hillier. PSU staff who worked on the marker project include Bill Crangle and former President Donald Wharton.