By John M. Holman
The following discourse concerns a brief history of the triangular plot of land in the center of Hampton, originally called "RAILROAD SQUARE", later, "DEPOT SQUARE" and in 1960, "LUIGI MARELLI SQUARE".
Quoting from Peter E. Randall's "HAMPTON: A Century of Town and Beach -- 1888 - 1988", " ..... In April of that year (1916), the (Hampton) Union's 'Good Things' column recommended some civic improvements, many of which were being contemplated at that time. ..... The plan hinged on the B&M Railroad providing gravel. Part of this rebuilding included the improvement of Depot Square, where the new Brooks automobile garage was being staked out on land acquired from the railroad. A drive circled the square, and in the center were a lawn and a garden. Under the direction of Selectman Joseph B. Brown, the Square project was completed quickly.
"...... A 1925 fund-raising campaign led by barber Chester Marston, who provided Hampton haircuts for some 45 years, resulted in the construction of a bandstand in the square. Concerts were held on Monday nights from 7 until 8:30 p.m., ending in time for the 8:40 p.m. electric car back to the Beach. In 1942, the (Boston & Maine) railroad completely rebuilt the depot, installing modern toilets, laying new floors, and painting it inside and out. The Town finally acquired the railroad lot, known then as Depot Square, for $8,500 in 1955. For more than 100 years, the square was the center of transportation activity in the town.
on their wedding day
"...... Ironically, one of Hampton's most beloved citizens was LUIGI MARELLI, an Italian immigrant who came to the area with his brothers. Each one opened a store -- Luigi (affectionately called "Louie" by all towns' people) in Hampton about 1916, the others in Exeter and Newmarket. Because of his many acts of kindness and charity, especially in sending Christmas packages to servicemen during World War II (and also during the Korean conflict), and 'for his exemplification of all the traits of good citizenship and for his loyalty to and love for his adopted country', Hampton's town square (Railroad Square or Depot Square) was named in his honor as a result of a motion by William Elliot at the 1960 town meeting." (Officially, it was named "LUIGI MARELLI SQUARE".)
Under Other Business at the annual Town meeting on March 8, 1960, Article 24 stated in part, "..... BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that permission be granted the business people of Hampton to erect, with the authority and under the supervision of the Selectmen, a suitable bronze plaque in the square at a place to be approved by the Selectmen, indicating that the purpose of this Resolution has been fulfilled. Resolution Unanimously approved."
The Marelli bronze plaque reads as follows:
THIS TABLET IS ERECTED BY
THE RESIDENTS OF THIS COMMUNITY
TO HONOR THE MEMORY OF LUIGI MARELLI
HIS DEEP SENSE OF CIVIC DEVOTION
AND OUTSTANDING SERVICES
TO THE WELFARE OF THIS TOWN
WILL ALWAYS SERVE AS AN INSPIRATION
FOR THE HIGHEST STANDARDS IN THE FUTURE.
VOTED AND ACCEPTED ON MARCH 9, 1960
BY THE CITIZENS OF THE TOWN OF HAMPTON, NH
[(Photo at right:) Formal dedication of the Veterans tree in Depot square to the veterans of the Hamptons was held as a part of the Memorial Day exercises in Hampton in 1956. Shown unveiling the bronze marker at right, are Merrill Blake and Janice Dalton. Miss Ruth Stimson (right) presented the tree to the town on behalf of the [Hampton] Garden Club.]
HAMPTON GARDEN CLUB "...... The next project was improvement at Depot Square, now Marelli Square. As a result, another warrant article was sponsored by the Club and the area was improved with granite curbing, a crosswalk, a bubbler and shrubbery. The Club planted a memorial tree, an evergreen, in honor of the town's veterans, and purchased a permanent marker." (The memorial evergreen is gone and the "permanent" marker is also missing. Do any of our readers know what became of it?)
at Depot Square 1955-56
courtesy of Hampton Garden Club & Ruth G. Stimson.]
in the High Street Cemetery Memorial Section