The Speakers Stand was located in the Veterans Grove. The Speakers Stand faced uphill and was directly behind the 7th Regiment building.
There were many Civil War generals who gave speeches at the annual NHVA reunions. Prior to the construction of the Speakers Stand, generals Ambrose Everett Burnside in 1878; Joseph Hooker in 1879; and George Brinton McClellan in 1880, had all spoken at the annual gathering of Civil War veterans.
In 1882, William Tecumseh Sherman was probably the first general to speak at the newly-constructed Speakers Stand. General Philip Henry Sheridan spoke in 1884. General John C. Fremont, who attended the August 1887 reunion, may have also spoken at the stand. Benjamin Franklin Butler is another general who is thought to have spoken at the stand.
One President, and sons of two different Presidents, spoke at the Speakers Stand.
President Theodore Roosevelt spoke on August 28, 1902. His eldest son, Theodore Roosevelt III, spoke at the stand on August 16, 1923, during the 47th annual reunion. At the time, Theodore Jr., as he was known, was serving as the Assistant Secretary of the US Navy.
Frederick D. Grant, the eldest son of President Ulysses S. Grant, spoke at the stand on August 26, 1908 (see photo below). F.D. Grant, like his father, was also an army General, but served in an entirely different war. Like Theodore Roosevelt, F.D. Grant served in the Spanish-American War.
There were two versions of the Speakers Stand. The first stand was an elaborate version with a gabled roof, seen below in photographs from an 1897 souvenir book. In the first photo, visible off in the distance through the trees, is part of the National Veterans Association building on the left, and the 15th Regiment building on the right. In 1924, the first Speakers Stand burned to the ground in the Great Weirs Beach Fire. Click here to see a picture of the ruins of the Speakers Stand.
Following the 1924 fire, the Speakers Stand was rebuilt as a simpler structure with a lean-to roof, seen below in the colorized postcard. The second stand lasted roughly 14 years until it too was destroyed, in the Great 1938 Hurricane. In the colorized photo, one can can see that Lake Winnipesaukee was partly visible through the trees behind and to the right of the Speakers Stand.
In this photo, of what is likely a wedding party, taken June 19, 1901 by the photographer C.D. Andrews, of Lakeport, it does seem possible that 3000 could be seated. The building in the upper left is the Heavy Artillery and Sharpshooters building.
METHODIST CAMPGROUND SPEAKERS STAND
The Speakers Stand in the Veterans Grove was not the only Speakers Stand in Weirs Beach. There was another, located at the Methodist Campground. In the photo below, a hexagonal structure is emblazoned with the entreaty “SEARCH THE SCRIPTURE”. (Photo from a stereoview by Tebbetts and Lindsay, Laconia, NH.)
Another photo by Tebbetts of the Methodist Campground Speakers Stand shows the benches, and a house behind the benches.
In a later postcard, titled “The Auditorium – Methodist Campground”, the Methodist Campground Speakers Stand has been converted from an outdoor amphitheater to a covered, indoor auditorium. One can still see the hexagonal origins of the structure.
ALTON (NOT WEIRS!) SPEAKERS STAND
There was another amphitheater in Alton that was sometimes confused with the one in Weirs Beach. In Alton, at the Advent Christian Campground, also known as the Alton Bay Camp Meeting Grounds, the amphitheatre in Advent Grove served as the center of Sunday church services for thousands.