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The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Holman Stadium has been a field of dreams for many

By JOAN STYLIANSO
June 27. 2018 10:47PM




If only those old brick walls and cement steps could talk, imagine how much else we might have learned. The history is so rich and incredible, but most of us take this Gate City jewel for granted.

It was constructed during the Great Depression in 1937, thanks mostly to the generosity of a man who wanted the property to honor the memory of his late parents, Charles and Mary.

Younger adults would probably remember the late superstar Whitney Houston and her powerful vocals gracing the spot in 1991, and then, there were The Beach Boys, James Taylor, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, The Allman Brothers Band, Tina Turner, Aerosmith and memorable others.

How could this have all gone down at 67 Amherst St. in little ole Nashua?

But it did, and beyond that, the property played a pivotal point in history for the world to witness in 1946. That is when the site hosted the first racially integrated U.S. team in modern baseball known as the Nashua Dodgers. Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella played here, and the team won the league championship that year while managed under Walt “Smokey” Alston.

Nashua had warmly welcomed and supported these gentlemen, and it was a great time in the city’s development as a symbol of unity for all people.

By now, you know I am writing about historic Holman Stadium, the famous center stage to the Fourth of July fireworks, which are being held there next Wednesday.

Holman Stadium is turning 80 years young. On Tuesday, July 17th, the city will be hosting a lively celebration then, so we will revisit this sacred spot in another column.

Holman Stadium has always represented good, clean fun and entertainment for Gate City residents, and although it has since expanded in redesign from its humble roots, it still displays a cozy feeling while one sits in the ballpark.

Today, Holman Stadium plays home to the Nashua Silver Knights, a franchise of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England. These elite athletes are well-connected to the community here, do a lot of good for local charities and promote a great family-friendly vibe.

Back in the day, thousands of high school athletes played football and baseball at Holman — it was the cool place to be. And it was a big deal for fans to cheer on the annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry between Nashua High and Bishop Guertin High while sitting on the old bleachers in the charming seating bowl lay out in the cold brisk air.

The late Philip S. Avery was named the architect for the original stadium’s design; he was a Nashua native.

Holman Stadium created fond memories for the youth of the Gate City and still proudly stands as a place where residents can go to feel connected to the community and its historical origins.

So thank you, to the late Charles “Frank” Holman, for dedicating Holman Stadium to the youth of Nashua. It’s been perhaps one of the smartest investments a resident could unselfishly make.

Holman Stadium has really been a “Field of Dreams” for many.

The same could be said of longtime Nashuan Jimmy Stellos, the major financial contributor to the other stadium here in the city that bears his name — Stellos Stadium.

That state-of-the-art venue, built in 2000, was designed by architects Lavallee Brensinger for football, field hockey, lacrosse and soccer games. More than 2,000 athletes in teams from Nashua High School North, Nashua High School South and Bishop Guertin High School, as well as many local youth athletic organizations, all use the stadium.

The Stellos family has quietly and generously given back to Nashua over the years and has never once sought recognition.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.


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