Tarlson’s Arcade circa 1960. The Weirs Sports Center occupied the top floor of the building. Entrance to the Sports Center was from the rear of the building, via a footbridge from the parking lot. The Weirs Sports Center was the predecessor to Funspot. Robert Lawton, owner of Funspot, opened his arcade on the top floor of the Tarlson building on June 30, 1952. It was not until the early 1970’s that Lawton moved his arcade to its present location on Route 3. (Notice Pinney’s Gift Shop, partly visible on the right of the photo.)
Tarlson’s Arcade, circa 1955
The Tarlson’s Arcade building opened on June 23, 1950, replacing “Walkden’s Souvenirs” and “Jeff’s Snack Bar”, which had previously occupied this corner at the intersection of Lakeside Avenue and Tower Street, as shown in an earlier tourist map of Weirs Beach.
Previously, in the 1940’s, the businesses located on this corner were the Playland Arcade, an unnamed hat shop, and Cliff’s Taxi, as seen in the following 1946 photos, courtesy of Malerie Wirey, whose parents owned the Playland, and whose grandmother, Stella Rolf, was the cashier in the original Half Moon Arcade. In the first photo, we can see the Methodist Church in the background, which still stands today. Arcade signs entreat customers to “Try Your Skill” and “Win A Prize”; Cliff’s Taxi offers “Sightseeing”; and the hat shop sold Crew Hats, Kerchiefs, and Neckties.
Twenty years earlier, the business located on this corner was Kennon’s restaurant, which burned down in the Great Weirs Beach Fire of 1924. The following remarkable photo of Kennon’s restaurant, taken on July 4, 1917, shows a large crowd, gathered under a huge American flag, observing a parade of men in uniform.
In addition to his business interests, George Tarlson Jr. was a fireman (he was captain of the Weirs Hose company); and he was also a successful musician. A March, 1934 Laconia Democrat article noted that “The Weirs has no more popular young man than Mr. Tarlson”… Tarlson was Laconia’s “Paul Whiteman” (a popular musician known as the “King of Jazz”). The article continued, Tarlson was doing business “in big time fashion. He is running three Tarlson’s Tune Toppers bands.” A 1936-1937 calendar appeared on the opposite side of the business card seen below. The Tune Toppers band was a sextet featuring George on drums; his sister Hazel (Tarlson) Bridges on piano; Leo Lamere on trumpet; Harold Robinson on trombone; Philip Richardson on saxophone, and Maurice Aldrich on vocals.
Below, an early 1930s photo of Tarlson’s band, performing outdoors for the grand opening of the store that was later to become known as the Superette. A violinist (on the far right) has subbed for the sax player.
George Tarlson resided in a big house on Lakeside Avenue that is now known as Castle Rest. His sister Hazel gave piano lessons for many years, including to both of the webmaster’s brothers.