Stanley Young

Stanley Young - Wilton Heritage Commission

Stan YoungThe Town of Wilton established a Heritage Commission in 2000, and members began their work the following year. Stanley Young was one of the original members, and the Commission’s Chair until stepping down this year.

“Wilton has rich and varied history,” Young said recently, “and it’s very important to preserve it and make it available to those who are interested.”

By state statute, the Heritage Commission’s charge is “preserving and protecting all things man-made.” It is a companion to the Conservation Commission which is concerned with “all things natural.” The two commissions work together, as they did on the Historic Resource Inventory.

Young recently retired from the Heritage Commission and recalled their projects, those finished, some on-going, and what they would like to accomplish in the future.

The most visible projects are the historic markers – 26 of them around the town – and the kiosk beside Stoney Brook in the police station parking lot. They produced a self-guided tour map of the town, a glossy brochure available from the Historical Society. There are signs identifying about 70 historic houses.

“Those houses were all built before 1850,” he said, “and I’d like to move that up to 1900.”

The Commission published a calendar commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, got the Town Hall on the National Register of Historic Places, and co-sponsored, with the Lyndeborough Commission, fourth grade history tours of the two towns the past two years.

“It’s good to have the kids start early,” he said. “They ask all of the questions I would have asked.” But, he added, “it’s too late to ask those people now.” With the Covid 19 virus cancelling most activities, that history tour is being video-taped for classroom presentation.

Young moved to town with his parents when he was in the third grade, and graduated from Wilton High School in 1948. After a career as an electrical engineer, he retired to the status of “Gentleman Farmer,” growing blueberries and Christmas trees and collecting antique John Deere tractors. He closed his tree farm in 2009.

In addition to the Heritage Commission, he served as a library trustee, with the restoration of the building in 2010 as his main focus, and has long been involved with the Historical Society.

In 2012, Young was named “Citizen of the Year.”

“We’ve had a lot of ideas we didn’t follow up on,” he said, projects he would like to see completed. Wilton Center should be a Historic District, he said, but accomplishing that is difficult. “We started to map the stone walls and do an inventory all of the old barns. The problem with that was, people didn’t want to call attention to them.” Some of them have since disappeared.

Another frustrating effort was establishing a right-of-way to the pauper cemetery connected with the former Hillsborough County Farm. “It belongs to the county,” he said, “but for some reason they didn’t deed the road,” when the property was sold. The current owners of the road do not allow public access. An appeal to the County Commissioners a few years ago went nowhere as they sided with the landowner. “We would like to restore the cemetery and make it accessible,” he said.

Young recalled the work of previous members of the Commission. Those include Leslie Wharton, “an original motivator,” Gail Hoar, the creator of the first brochure, former selectman Dan Donovan (who built the kiosk), William Condra, and the late Phyllis Tallarico, long-time curator for the Historical Society.

“It’s important to have the town officials back the projects,” he said. “Gail also set up the Town Hall Gallery,” he said, a changing selection of pictures in the entry to the town offices established during the former Arts and Film Festival, “and got a historical display for us.”

He recalled parts of Wilton’s history. The Abbott Mills produced some of the finest wool cloth in the country. The Whiting Dairy sent their Golden Guernsey milk to Boston every morning on the train. The Whiting Box Shop made thousands of apple boxes. The Souhegan Apple Growers Cooperative had their headquarters in Wilton.

“We used to be a mill town and now we’re a bedroom community,” he said. “If we don’t somehow keep (these memories) it will be lost and it’s important to remember that Wilton has a lot of history.”

For more information on the Wilton Heritage Commission, click HERE.

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