METHUEN – In the late 19th century, a club for Civil War veterans in Methuen pooled $250 to purchase a cannon for their post. Throughout the decades, that cannon has lived in a few spots around town before finally settling out side the Quinn Building on Hampshire Street.
Those decades ate away at the wooden wheels and supports, and corroded the 8-foot-long bronze barrel until some residents worried it had become a safety hazard in a public place.
“It was in such bad condition, I was afraid if some kid climbed on it it would collapse, it was so bad,” said Jack Cronin, a former city councilor who was one of the residents who approached the mayor’s office with the idea of fixing it up.
Now, after several months of renovation and refurbishment, the cannon, a Napoleon 12-pounder dating from around 1840, will be reintroduced to a public that is more familiar with rotting wheels and a moldy green barrel at an open house at Greater Lawrence Technical School, 57 River Road, Andover, tomorrow from 5 to 7 p.m. The cannon is in the auto body shop.
“I almost didn’t recognize it as the Methuen cannon,” said Joe Bella, the vice president and historian of the Methuen Historical Society who also asked to have the cannon repaired. “The restoration was pristine. It’s a great, great job.”
Students from Greater Lawrence worked on the cannon for several months, replacing the wood, creating new metal replacement pieces and scouring and polishing the bronze, using photos from the Internet and a history lesson from Bella to get it as close to its original condition as they could.
Bella said that Henry Coffin Nevins, of the prominent Nevins family in Methuen, joined the Methue
n post of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was a fraternal organization for Civil War veterans, as an honorary colonel for his donations to the local William B. Greene post.