... the title is chiseled into the granite facade.

by Russ Priestley

This is year 100 for our Memorial Hall, but why was it erected five years
before our two biggest wars? This question aroused my curiosity ... a mere
scribe such as I did extensive research and found much of interest to the
citizens of Melrose, and to historians.

It seems that the great benefactor was John C.F. Slayton. He donated 25% of
the cost and made arrangements for using granite from The Old Court House in
Boston. In addition, he financed the interior furnishings, piano and stage
equipment. In 1919, Mr. Slayton presented the organ, plus $10,000 for upkeep.

The purpose of the building was to honor Melrose veterans, beginning with the
French and Indian War and later the American Revolution, during which our
local patriots became vocally and physically involved. One vow to the British
was, "It is our ardent wish that America become free and independent states,
we therefore, renounce with disdain our connection with the Kingdom."

Among the many patriots who answered the call in April, 1775, were the famous
families of Lynde, Grover, Gooch, Sprague, Upham and Vinton. During the
American Civil War, Melrose sent 454 to battle, 23 did not return. The
Spanish-American War of 1898 was a brief encounter in which just six Melrose
men engaged.

My personal involvement with the building has been minimal. I've been a
watcher at many musicals, stage plays and art exhibits. Our kids participated
in the Halloween costume contests ... and won twice in the "Most Original"

Other occasions involved the MHS Athletic Hall of Fame Awards Banquet. I
watched my three brothers get inducted before I applied and had to go onstage
to receive the award. Having four members of one family in the Athletic Hall
of Fame is a precedent waiting to be matched.

May 4, 2012

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