By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — The city’s official flag is a blue banner with three white prongs representing the Merrimack, Spicket and Shawsheen rivers that flow through Lawrence.
Over the years, flag manufacturers changed the position of the white trident and the sky blue color on the banner had darkened. This was something that Jonas Stundzia of the Lawrence Historical Commission could not bare to see.
Stundzia enlisted the help of Larry Silva, owner of Farley and Cross Flag Co., to correct the flag. The re-positioning of the meeting point of the three rivers was computer generated. A white line down the middle of the banner represents the Merrimack River while the Spicket River is on the left and the Shawsheen River is on the right.
“I’m a stickler when it comes to historical facts,” he said as his reason for the makeover.
“Through its simplicity, it’s a gorgeous flag. If you look at a topographic map, the rivers come at the same spot as on the flag. We’re an industrial city based on hydro power of the river and if it had not been there, the city had never established,” Stundzia said. “The river is the basic foundation of the city.” The Striker’s Monument Committee, which Stundzia and retired Lawrence High arts teacher David Meehan co-chaired are paying for the restoration.
The Lawrence flag was designed by Daniel W. Hoff and it flew for the first time on June 1, 1903 for the 50th anniversary of the city’s founding. Hoff was supervisor of penmanship in the city.
Hoff was born in Iowa in 1857 and moved to Lawrence in 1900 after his marriage to Josephine Randall. They lived at 6 Hillside Ave. and had two boys and a girl who died at a young age.
Hoff left Lawrence in 1911 and from 1912 to 1929 he taught at Meadville Commerce School.
The original flag was made out of worsted wool, which was produced in the city mills. The new flag is being fashioned out of nylon and will have the new proportion and sport a soft blue color.
“Lawrence is looked down so much and it shouldn’t be that way, having a revised flag shows that we still care and that we’re proud of our city,” said Jennifer William, archivist at Lawrence History Center.
The flag has been altered through the years, including placing drawings of mills, smokestacks billowing smoke inside a gear in the middle of the flag.
“That took away from its original beauty,” Meehan said. “Our flag is a simple, strong symbol of Lawrence and as a textile industrial city we should take pride in it because the rivers harness the powers of the mills.”
The city’s flag was prominently display during all festivities during the 150th anniversary of Lawrence. This flag is now at Lawrence History Center.
“I’m glad it’s been revised because it’s an important symbol for the city,” said James Beauchesne,Visitor Service supervisor at Heritage State Park. “It’s unique and it’s our own.”