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Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

Facebook: Bob Hammerstrom at The Nashua Telegraph

The overflow culvert from Jew Pond in Mont Vernon, Friday, July 1, 2011.
Friday, April 20, 2012

Mont Vernon selectmen choose Carleton Pond as new name for Jew Pond

MONT VERNON – Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to change the name of Jew Pond to Carleton Pond.

The vote came more than a month after Town Meeting voted to abandon the name that has caused some controversy locally and even brought in newspaper and TV coverage from around the country.

The board made its decision after first asking residents for name suggestions, but would not have necessarily gone with whatever was favored.

Fifteen residents responded: Nine favored Carleton Pond, five were for Spring Pond, and one voted for Children’s Pond.

According to town Treasurer Laurie Brown, the Carleton family was among the founding residents of the town, and in 1972, Bessie Carleton donated the pond and surrounding land to the town in memory of her late husband, George. Then, it was named Carleton Park.

Carleton Pond “was my preference from the get-go,” said selectmen Chairman Jack Esposito. After researching George Carleton in the town reports and learning of all his contributions to the town, the name is “most appropriate,” he said.

George Carleton’s nephew is Al Carleton, of Mont Vernon, and on Thursday his wife, Eloise Carleton, said she and her husband would have been happy with either Carleton Pond or Spring Pond.

It was the night of Town Meeting in March when Mont Vernon voters approved changing the name of Jew Pond, though it wasn’t yet decided what to change it to.

The town voted by secret ballot to petition the U.S. Geological Survey to rename tiny Jew Pond and charge the Board of Selectmen to determine the process by which the name would be changed. The article, amended from an original proposal to rename the pond “Grand Hill Pond,” was approved 124-33.

The proposal to rename the pond drew national attention.

Among the high-profile people who expressed opinions on the Jew Pond issue was U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who called the name Jew Pond “inappropriate” and said it “should be changed” in a letter.

The name arose from the fact that three Jewish men – Boston-area brothers Nymen H. and Myer Z. Kolodny and Maine hotelier J.M. Levenson – purchased The Grand in 1927, after it ran into hard times.

They ran the hotel for two years, catering to Jewish clientele who were often turned away from other hotels. They sold it back a year before it burned to the ground in 1930.

While they owned the hotel, they renamed the pond Lake Serene. Locals, amused by the presumption, gave it the unofficial moniker Jew Pond, and as years passed, the name stuck. It didn’t show up officially until decades later; the earliest recorded copy is a 1961 zoning map.

Town welfare officer Rich Masters got the ball rolling in summer 2010 after investigating an algae bloom at Jew Pond.

After learning of the name, Masters sent a proposal to state officials to adopt the name “Frog Pond,” after learning that responsibility for making an official name change rests with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Board on Geographic Names.