PORTSMOUTH — You no longer have an excuse for not knowing where Founders’ Brook Park is located.
A handsome new sign was installed Tuesday morning at the entrance to the park at Boyd’s Lane, just west of Mello’s farm stand.
It’s a big improvement over the nearly invisible marker on the other side of Old Boyd’s Lane (the official name of the road leading into the park), which was the park’s only sign for years.
The lack of advertising has been cited as a prime reason why so few local residents know where to go if they want to visit the site of the town’s original founding in 1638.
“I say, ‘You know where Founders’ Brook is?’ and people say, ‘No.’ Why? Look at that sign!” said Doug Smith, chairman of the Portsmouth 375th Steering Committee, pointing to the small blue marker which sits atop a dead-end sign.
The new 70×40-inch sign was a joint donation of the 375th group and John Liptak, owner of Liptak Signs, who has made other signs for the town. It incorporates sign foam (which doesn’t warp or rot), crushed black glass (which doesn’t fade) and gold leaf (which can last generations without a touch-up), said Mr. Liptak.
“It’s made to last,” he said.
Gary Gump of the 375th Steering Committee said he’s also asked the R.I. Department of Transportation (DOT) to change the Heritage Park sign on Route 24 southbound to include Founders Brook Park. DOT promised it will be ready in time for Sunday’s picnic and festival to honor Anne Hutchinson at Founders’ Brook (see below).
Mr. Smith said Mr. Liptak’s sign is part of a “major upgrade” to the site, one of several improvements made in recent weeks. The Department of Public Works (DPW) has installed a new parking area just south of the Mello’s farm stand, and the Friends of Anne Hutchinson have donated several sitting benches — inscribed with inspirational versus — designed by Elizabeth Vangel of Foss Media.
“The Department of Public Works guys have been absolutely dynamite,” said Mr. Smith. “They’ve been moving these benches, and they weigh a ton.”
Literally a ton. Even heavier are the rough-stone sitting rocks donated by Larry Ferreira of MF Construction, next door to Founders’ Brook.
“This one weighs about 4,000 pounds,” said DPW Director Dave Kehew, pointing to a rock that features a natural chair-like curvature.
Mr. Gump said because the town maintains the park, the rocks and benches were located in areas that allows DPW to mow more easily. “We wanted to make sure what we’re doing is complimentary to what they’re doing,” he said.
Much of the DPW work has been carried out during the oppressive heat wave. There’s nothing much you can do to beat the heat, said Mr. Kehew, other than start early, take the occasional air-conditioned break inside the DPW offices, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
“Most guys drink about two gallons of water a day,” he said.
Picnic for Anne on Sunday
The Friends of Anne Hutchinson/375 Anniversary of Portsmouth will commemorate the 375 anniversary of the founding of Portsmouth in 1638, as well as celebrate the spiritual leader and co-founder, Anne Marbury Hutchinson, with a tent picnic/community fest from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, July 21, at Founders’ Brook Park, Old Boyd’s Lane.
Founders’ Brook, where it all began for the settlers who were banished from Puritan Boston, will have a Sunday of live music and an interactive outdoor exhibit on the settlement period. Guest speakers will dedicate an inscribed Quincy stone bench for the 375th anniversary for Portsmouth and two other benches will be dedicated for Anne Hutchinson inscribed with her words.
Guest speakers also will honor the life/times circa 1638 of Hutchinson.
Admission is free. Participants are asked to bring folding chairs and a picnic.
For more information, visit www.portsmouthri375.com or www.annehutchinson.org or call 846-8439.
Valerie Debrule and Michael Ford are co-chairmen of The Friends of Anne Hutchinson.