My 375th Anniversary Memories – MB

by Mary Beeman

Mary BeemanI felt honored to have been invited to join the planning committee of Guilford’s 375th. While I had to resign after a few months due to the time constraints of a new job, I continued to be active outside of the Committee.

My church, First Church of Christ Scientist on Park Street, hosted two major events for the year-long celebration:  a series of concerts for Generations Jubilee and Civil War plays.

During Guilford’s Generations Jubilee, we hosted 4 of the concerts on December 31, 2013. It was incredible to see the pews full of familiar faces during:

  • A string ensemble performance directed by Janet Boughton
  • A jazz combo featuring Donn Trenner and Dr. Joe
  • An up-and-coming operatic baritone, Mike Gracco, accompanied by Chad Hardin
  • And (my personal favorite) Schuyler Beeman in a cabaret of show tunes all about HOME.

I was so proud to see Schuyler perform a block away from his home, in his home church, in his home town, in front of families he used to babysit for, and some that used to babysit for him!

On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, 2014, our church also hosted a series of plays as part of the Civil War Tribute. I loved working with Edie Brown and her team of dedicated volunteers. The plays were moving personal accounts of 6 individual’s experiences during the Civil War that took you right back to that time. Throngs of people came to each of the 6 performances! In between each, attendees would take advantage of carriage rides on Park Street, Civil War reenactors, food vendors, and outdoor performances.

This project was especially significant as the Christian Science Church was originally Third Congregational Church which was established by a group of abolitionists who broke away from First Church on Broad Street. Years later, the two groups reconciled. It was then a silent movie house, a summer stock theater, and then again became a church when a small group of Christian Scientists bought it and restored it to its original use.

I have loved seeing the colorful banners around town celebrating Guilford’s 375th anniversary. It was such an amazing year of events, history, and the coming together of a very special community that I’ve called home since 1981.

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