Rye monument dedication remembers Capt. John Smith and his 1614 voyage
RYE — A new monument commemorating Capt. John Smith’s 1614 expedition to map the region and coin the name “New England” is set for dedication Thursday at Rye Harbor State Park.
“It’s going to be a great ceremony,” state Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, said of the event, which will celebrate a rare quadricentennial. “There have been very few 400th anniversaries in this country — St. Augustine down in Florida, Jamestown seven years ago and this expedition of Capt. John Smith in 1614.”
Campbell chaired the commission to build the monument, which was allocated up to $40,000 in the state’s capital budget last year. Campbell said private donations with a total value of more than $60,000 have significantly cut the use of state dollars.
The 1614 Monument measures 17 feet, 2 inches — or 16 feet, 14 inches in tribute to Smith’s expedition date. It is made from four pieces of New Hampshire granite and weighs 18 tons. The monument features a large bronze replica of Smith’s map. The other three sides of the monument are carved with panels of information about John Smith, the origins of New England, and the Isles of Shoals, which Smith dubbed “Smith’s Iles.”
Campbell said Swenson Granite Works, SLX Construction, Pike Industries and Redimix Companies gave significant in-kind contributions. Funds also were raised through donations by Mae Bradshaw, Frank and Josephine Concemi; Beverly Reynolds Giblin; Tom, Heather and Darla Mahoney; and Geraldine and Michael Mittleman.
Thursday’s event begins at 10:30 a.m. on Ragged Neck Point at the park, on Route 1A in Rye. The event will feature music, a demonstration of Abenaki basket weaving, a recitation of a speech by Paul Strand portraying John Smith, remarks by UNH professor Jeffrey Bolster and comments from elected officials as well as the unveiling of inscriptions on the monument.
Smith sailed in 1614 to what was then known as Northern Virginia and created the first nautically accurate map of the region. He later published “A Description of New England,” which influenced English migration to the area.
Monuments dedicated on anniversaries of Smith’s 1614 voyage were previously installed on Star Island at the Isles of Shoals, one on the 250th anniversary in 1864 and another on the 300th anniversary in 1914. The site of the original 1864 John Smith marker will be rededicated on Star Island on Aug. 22.
More information about the 1614 Monument, including a 3-D rendering, is online at www.1614monument.com.