CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Beer brewed from a 200-year-old recipe will be served outside the New Hampshire Statehouse as part of the building’s bicentennial celebration.
The building opened on June 2, 1819, but the golden eagle was put atop the dome about a year earlier. To mark that occasion, a commission that has been organizing bicentennial events is hosting a reading on the Statehouse lawn of the 13 toasts that were written at the time.
“I’ve got dibs on the George Washington one,” said House Clerk Paul Smith, who said other toasts honored the governor, President James Monroe and “fair maidens of America.”
The event, set for July 14, will also include a limited-edition beer from Henniker Brewing Company. The beer will only be available that month and next summer, Smith said.
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Smith and other commission members said Tuesday they also are planning a week’s worth of activities for next June, including a panel discussion for former governors and a Legislative Old Home Day to invite back all living former lawmakers. The state Supreme Court will hold a session in what is now the Senate chambers but was originally a courtroom, there will be a “Made in New Hampshire” expo and a cultural heritage fair that includes displays devoted to Native Americans. Music and fireworks will round out the week, Smith said.
While the building is the oldest state capitol in which both houses of the Legislature meet in their original chambers, New Hampshire got a late start in constructing it. According to former Speaker Shawn Jasper, the Legislature moved from place to place for many years before finding a permanent home in Concord.
“By 1814, we were the only state in the nation that had no capitol building, and that was an embarrassment,” he said.
Two other towns — Hopkinton and Salisbury — also were interested but dropped their bids when they realized how much trouble it would be to quarry the granite for the building, Jasper said. The original House chamber was smaller than it is today, he said, and included 12 seats behind the speaker’s rostrum for senators, who shared a chaplain with the House and would come in for prayers to open their sessions.
Former Speaker Doug Scamman was in the House in 1969 for the Statehouse’s 150th birthday, and recalled a stirring speech by Republican Norris Cotton, another former speaker who went on to serve in the U.S. House and Senate.
“It was very, very interesting for a young man like me,” said Scamman, now 76. “I was just spellbound as I sat and listened to him.”
As for the July event featuring the historic beer, Scamman quipped, “Too bad I don’t drink anymore, I might try one.”