CONWAY — Although the little blue cabin — also known as the Gibson playground cabin or summer house — that sat on North Conway Community Center land in North Conway was razed last Friday morning, several elements of the structure were salvaged, to hopefully be used in a future building on the site.
The Gibson-Woodbury Foundation paid for the $3,000 cost of removal, according to Carrie Burkett, celebrating her first anniversary this week as general manager of the non-profit North Conway Community Center.
She said the center’s board wants to try and incorporate some of the elements that were salvaged such as the front granite step and the ornate molding around the door into a future, yet-to-be-designed building that as currently envisioned could be used to provide shade for parents using the playground.
“There currently is no shade, and it gets hot,” said Burkett Monday. “Currently, I am looking into some shade sales. We have heard that feedback from families, and we want a good long-term solution,” said Burkett.
She said when the board sought input this summer from the public about the history of the cabin, it was told by local historian Kim Beals that due to the intricate trim, it may have once been part of the Kearsarge House that stood where the playground now sits from 1872 until it was destroyed by fire in 1917.
“I also contacted Bob Cottrell of the Conway Public Library’s Henney History Room and of the Conway Historical Society but we could not confirm whether it was part of the Kearsarge House. But there was no question that longtime community center users had fond memories and lots of nostalgia for it,” said Burkett, who said although she asked Kyler Drew of L.A. Drew whether the fireplace could be saved for possible use as an outdoor cookout area, “he shook his head and said it was too far gone.”
The removal of the cabin follows the taking down this spring of a large maple tree that once towered over the cabin.
The Gibson-Woodbury Foundation also paid for that tree removal project.
Board members Lynn Lyman and husband Peter Donohoe recently did a planting of perennials near the playground entrance, and L.A. Drew provided some crushed stone to the cabin site, paid for by the Gibson-Woodbury Foundation.
“We are looking at the outdoor space needs for the center and asking for input from the community,” said Burkett.
She said due to COVID-19 health safety concerns, the board put up a sign outlining Centers for Disease Control safety measures concerning safe social distancing.
“I know that (town code inspector) Dave Pandora was initially worried about us having 40 to 50 people at the playground, but it has averaged about 25 to 27 on busier days so that has not been an issue,” she said.
She said the board opted not to turn on the playground’s Sprayground this season, due to safety issues, even though it has been a hot summer and it surely would have been a popular attraction.
In an attempt to offset some of the losses caused by the cancellation of many seasonal event fundraisers such as the Mud Bowl that since 1976 has annually been held the weekend after Labor Day, the center this summer has been featuring visiting food trucks on weekends since July 18.
She said the original location was toward the back of the basketball court but she obtained permission from Conway Town Planning Director Tom Irving to move it closer to Route 16 to gain greater visibility for the food trucks.
Each vendor donates 10 percent of their food sales to the NCCC, according to Burkett.
The program last weekend featured a food truck run by Alison Bickford, director of the culinary arts program at the MWV Career and Tecnhical Center at Kennett High.
The next two weekends, it will feature a food truck, Tin Can Co., run by Chef Bryant Alden and wife Patty Alden and featuring crepes from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, depending on the weather.
She said the center will be holding its last summer camp program this coming today.
“It has gone incredibly well. I am delighted that we were able to offer programs with safe social distancing and pods of campers. With so much up in the air for the fall, I think it was really important to have been able to offer this,” said Burkett, noting the camp has been staffed by six counselors and three CICs (counselors in training) and attended by 24 campers ages kindergarten through grade 6.
For more information, call (603) 356-2096 or go to northconwaycommunitycenter.org.