Cary Memorial Building Grand Re-Opening

(as delivered on 10/24/2015 by Joe Pato, Lexington Board of Selectmen chair)

Good morning. Thank you, Epp Sonin – Lexington Symphony President for that rendition of “God Bless America” and to the members of the Symphony for the fanfare that preceded it.

What a week – last Saturday nearly a thousand people attended the Grand Opening of the Community Center, and today we gather for the Grand Re-Opening of the Cary Memorial Building. In one week, we have brought two pillars of community civic, recreational, and cultural engagement into service.

87 Years ago this week, Lexington gathered as well for the dedication ceremony of this building. At that time Robert Clapp, President of the Board of Trustees, formally transferred the building through the Selectmen to the inhabitants of Lexington.

In his dedication Clapp held out the hope we would be here today: “that all of the numerous literary, social, and charitable organizations of the Town may here find opportunity for exercise of their activities.”

It is safe to say that this ambition has been shared and fulfilled through the generations and is alive and well today.

Robert Clapp spoke of anticipated uses for the building including “any purpose for which by common consent makes for the betterment of the community”. Today, one such use – the return of Town Meeting to Battin Hall in just over a week – is eagerly awaited, but in 1928 Lexington was just about to move to representative Town Meeting. That change was greeted, as is much change, with some consternation. Clapp wistfully spoke of the loss of tradition and his hopes that not only would “all citizens of the town will be permitted to come” to these spacious galleries, but that they be allowed to participate and not remain mere spectators.

Today, representative town meeting is a treasured institution, and we are comforted that system devised is effective in expressing popular will and imbues a strong sense of civic responsibility throughout the community.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For example, we Lexingtonians have strong opinions and are happy to share them…. In his dedication, Clapp returns three times to the challenges and delays in getting the building built and those of satisfying the public – He states finally that having turned over the building, the Trustees would be “a little hard of hearing” with respect to defects that are pointed out.

It comes down to us to rejoice in the defects of this grand building. In our day, we benefit from the vision and generousness of Cary sisters, the devotion of the trustees in getting the building built, and from the dedication of today’s volunteers and staff in restoring and adapting the facility as you see now. And, no doubt, the defects we introduce will become the opportunities for future generations to transform this space to meet the needs of their times.

At this time, I’d like to introduce Jonathan McPhee, Music Director of the Lexington Symphony.

Thank you, Jonathan.

<break for Jonathan’s speech>

This facility is not the only gift offered by the Cary sisters. In addition, a trust fund amounting to half the funds needed for constructing and outfitting the building was established to provide for continuing education through lectures and scholarships.

I’d like to invite Rita Goldberg, member of the Cary Lecture Series Committee to address us now.

<break for Rita’s speech>

Thank you, Rita.

Robert Clapp spoke of the challenges in bringing the vision of this landmark to reality. I’d like to invite Fred Johnson, chairman of the Cary Memorial Building Program Committee to join us now and recognize the dedication and effort it took to refresh the facility.

<break for Fred’s speech>

Thank you, Fred.

We will now have a special dedication of the Dawn of Liberty Painting. Bill Poole, President of the Lexington Historical Society please lead us through this dedication.