6th NH Volunteer Infantry Company “E” reenactors fire a volley at an August 21, 2011 event marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War

In 1875, ten years after the Civil War, the New Hampshire Veterans Association was formed. Three years later, the Association held their first annual reunion at Weirs Beach. Leasing 7.7 acres of land on Lakeside Avenue from the railroad, they constructed a series of Victorian buildings, one for each regiment, in the style of the times.

A 1990s map of the Veteran’s Grove shows the few remaining buildings.

A 2023 map of the Veteran’s Grove shows the street layout and street names, as well as a listing of the campsites.

Click here to see historical postcards of the NHVA buildings on Lakeside Avenue: the Cavlary HQ, 9th & 11th Regiment, and 7th Regiment buildings.

Known as the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) buildings, several of these grand old buildings are still standing today, including the Cavalry HQ, 9th and 11th Regiment, and 7th Regiment, L to R, above. In 1924, with assistance from the NH legislature, the Association finally purchased the large tract of land from the railroad, for $4000.

For a historical timeline of the Association, along with clickable, past and present views of all of the Veteran’s buildings, many additional historical photos, a history of the Association’s annual gatherings honoring past heroes, and an online bibliography of NH’s regiments during the Civil War, click here.

Over the last century and a quarter, the diversity of the membership of the New Hampshire Veteran’s Association has greatly expanded, while the number of historical buildings has continued to decline. In 2000, members of the Association’s board included representatives from the Sons of Union Veterans; Veterans of Foreign Wars; American Legion; Disabled American Veterans; Waves National – Granite State Unit #33; and the Vietnam Veterans of America. The buildings, which peaked around 35 structures in the early 1920s, were down to 17 when a historic district was established on May 22, 1980, and are now down even further to about 10 structures, with fire have claimed many victims.

The cannon on the front lawn of the Veterans HQ is fired for the first time in 50 years, August 12, 2000. Fortunately for the train station across the street, the cannon wasn’t loaded! Now the cannon is fired every year during the annual reunion.
Veteran’s reunion shown in the postcard below.
Below, the original black and white photo of the reunion, before it was colorized
For the first 40 years (1879-1919), the annual veterans reunions attracted large, enthusiastic crowds, sometimes estimated in the thousands; seen below gathering by the HQ in the early 1900’s, complete with a marching band. More recent reunions have been much more modest affairs, attended at best by a hundred dedicated souls.

Governor’s Day was a day set aside during the annual Veteran’s reunion to honor the Governor of New Hampshire. It was always held on the Thursday of the reunion. Upon the Governor’s arrival in Weirs Beach, the cannons at the Veterans HQ would roar in salute. The Governor would then join the parade, which would march from the NHVA HQ down Railroad Avenue (Lakeside Avenue) to North Avenue (Endicott St North) and countermarch (reverse course) back to the HQ. Later, at the Speaker’s Stand in the Veterans Grove, the Governor and other state and local dignitaries would give speeches. According to the August 24, 1933 issue of the Laconia Citizen, the Governor’s Day Parade was always a feature of the annual reunion. A typical Governor’s day schedule would be as follows: Reveille at 6am. Breakfast at 7am. A band concert from 8am-10am. The parade from 11am-noon. Dinner at 1pm. Speeches at 2pm. Memorial services at the various regimental buildings at 7pm. Another band concert at 8pm. Tattoo* at 10:30pm. Taps at 11pm. (*Tattoo was a bugle call warning all to turn off the lights, quiet down, and go to sleep!)

M.F. Sweetser wrote in 1889: Weirs is the summer capital of the Lake Country. The great camp-meeting grounds…have a fame that is almost national, and are occupied during the summer by convocations of people devoted to religious advancement, the temperance cause, the heroic memories of the Union-saving war, and other worthy causes, grangers, Good Templars, musicians, oarsmen, Foresters, and other fraternal men. As recently as 1870, this site was occupied only by a little wooden railway station, and all the development of the cottage city, even yet in its infancy, has gone forward since then.

Click here to see a gallery of the Weirs Beach waterfront circa 1906


1st NH Volunteer Cavalry Regiment reenactors raise their swords on Lakeside Avenue, August 13, 2012
Reenactors from the 5th Massachusetts Light Artillery Battery E prepare to fire their cannon
At noon on August 19, 2012, the cannon is fired towards Lake Winnipesaukee, seemingly targeting the tourist train passing by
Soldier’s Mother Mrs. Phelps (Sharon Woods) and President Abraham Lincoln (Steve Woods), pose by the NHVA historical marker, with the headquarters in the background, on August 19, 2012.