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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grand Hill Pond proposed as a new name for Jew Pond in Mont Vernon

MONT VERNON – If tiny Jew Pond in the center of Mont Vernon should get a new name, as some people in town have suggested, what should it be?

A public hearing Monday will consider “Grand Hill Pond” as an option.

The name is taken from an adjacent hill, whose name in turn was taken from The Grand, the biggest and best-known of the many hotels that operated here a century ago, when Mont Vernon thrived as a summer residence for people fleeing Boston’s summer heat.

Article 10 of the proposed Mont Vernon town warrant says “To see if the Town will vote to petition the USGS (United States Geographic Survey) to rename Jew Pond to Grand Hill Pond.”

Monday’s hearing will discuss that and the rest of the warrant, which includes the proposed town operating budget. The warrant will be taken up for more detailed debate and a decision at Town Meeting on March 13.

The hearing will be at 7:15 p.m. Monday at Town Hall.

Jew Pond is a quarter-acre pond created when the owner of the Grand dammed a creek in the late 19th century.

It got the name from a short-lived attempt in the late 1920s by some Jewish attorneys from Boston to turn The Grand into a resort for Jewish people, who were often blacklisted at other hotels.

The attempt failed, and the hotel burned down in 1930, but the pond’s name stuck, although written records of it are hard to find.

Last year, a town resident, arguing that the name reflected badly on Mont Vernon, filed a petition for change with the U.S. Geological Survey’s division that handles official place names. Jew Pond is the only geographic body in the state with any form of “Jew” in its official USGS name.

USGS officials have indicated they will go along with the local consensus on whether the name should be changed.

Other names that have been proposed include Carleton Pond, after the small park in which the pond is located; Spring Pond, the first name given to the body; and Frog Pond.