By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, June 21, 2001
BY THE SEA — Hampton Garden Club member Ruth Stimson (second from right) was joined by (from left) Pat Ames, Lucienne Jacques, Amogene Kimball, and Sally Cleary at the rededication ceremony for the Seashore Park, named in Ruth's honor. [Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON — After a 36-year wait, the Ruth G. Stimson Seashore Park was rededicated — and the Hampton woman for whom it is named was honored — at a special ceremony which took place at the park's scenic location near Plaice Cove.
The well-attended event saw members of the Hampton Garden Club, the Hampton Historical Society, Hampton Boy Scout Troop 177, several Hampton town officials, and many other individuals gather to celebrate the tireless effort and dedication of the well-known conservationist and 51-year garden club member.
"It was gratifying indeed," said an appreciative Stimson of receiving the long-awaited honor.
A lovely, compact parcel of land which has been home to Hampton's fish houses, the grassy park provided a perfect setting for the early evening ceremony. The event opened with the presentation of colors and a cannon salute performed by the 17th Century Hampton Militia. A "History of the Fish Houses" followed, offered by Hampton historian Harold Fernald, who was dressed in the full military regalia of days past.
Current Hampton Garden Club President Betty Moore then offered her opening remarks to those who were present, sharing a brief chronology of the park's beginnings on up to the present.
Partially bordered by a deep, fragrant hedge of white and pink beach rose bushes opposite the rocky Atlantic shore, the park — located on land once known as "the fish house area" — first came into being when it was voted in as "free public property" at a 1960 town meeting.
Taken on by the garden club as a two-year civic beautification project, the park underwent an extensive clean up, which ranged from the use of heavy equipment to move rocks, to a generous amount of sand-raking by club members. New plantings, including annuals, red cedars and pines, soon became part of the newly refurbished landscape.
During her remarks, Moore noted that in mid-1965, a vote taken at town meeting expressed voter approval to change the name of the park to Ruth G. Stimson Seashore Park, in recognition of the guest of honor's dedication to the project. Since that time, according to Moore, "this park has been under Ruth's watchful eye," and she has "compiled a history of how this park evolved through the service of the Hampton Garden Club, other groups, and benefactors."
Following Moore's presentation, Hampton Historical Society President Paul Corbett and Boy Scout Troop 177 conducted the rededication honors, followed by the presentation of the official proclamation (read by Selectman Bonnie Searle), and a special gift given by garden club member Marilyn Wallingford, who with Fernald served as co-chairman of the event.
Moore later explained that a sign commemorating the park in Stimson's honor had previously been in place. The sign, however, was blown away during a storm approximately 20 years ago and was never replaced. Now, thanks to last weeks long-deserved recognition shown to Ruth Stimson, a permanent plaque has been fastened to a monumental boulder which park visitors can find nestled amidst the blooming beach rose bushes.
Though last week's rededication ceremony is now part of Hampton history, Stimson is still looking ahead to the park's future. Earlier this week, while in the process of "writing my 'thank-you's to a great many people," said Stimson, she is proposing a plan "to propagate the seaside goldenrod [at] the northeast part of the boundary."
This will be effective in fighting erosion, and will "help keep [the area] as natural as possible," said Stimson, adding that this was the advice first offered by landscape architect Dorothea Harrison when the park came into being.
Regarding consistent plans to maintain the natural characteristics of the Seashore Park named in her honor, Stimson said, "That is the only way it will survive."
[Photo courtesy Nate Piper, Rye, NH.