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SET IN STONE: Keyes stage being built with quarry stone

MILFORD – The construction of a new public performance space at the east entrance to Keyes Memorial Park is scheduled to begin this week, using stones from an old Milford quarry.

Stones are from the original stone cutting shed located on the former Tonella King Quarry, and they will be reassembled to create the stage. Its design and layout will replicate the stone shed structure and take approximately eight to 10 weeks to complete, said Lincoln Daley, Milford Community Development Director, on the town website.

The material for the project was donated by the property owners, the deMontigny family, and all engineering and construction work is being completed through donations from local residents and business owners.

“We are really excited about it,” said Daley, on the phone Tuesday. “It’s a project that’s brought a lot of people together, and it’s a great example of the re-use of a Superfund site.”

The deMontignys plan to build townhouses on the site. At a planning board meeting last year, Heritage Commission Chairman David Palance said the commission would like to see a plan that left the historic building standing. The way the stones were worked shows the evolution of cutting techniques, beginning with hammer and chisel, he told the planning board, and the rough cut rock also speaks to New Englanders’ “waste-not, want-not” character. Board members told him the town doesn’t own the property and it can’t tell the owners what to do with the stone.

“All in all, I’ll take this as a battle won,” said Palance in an email Tuesday. “The bandstand will be beautiful and useful. There are plenty of authentic stone sheds in town, owned by good people who will show them off and preserve the town heritage.”

The Tonella & Sons quarry operated in the early 20th century, one of about 15 granite quarries that earned Milford the name,“The Granite Town in the Granite State.”

Stage construction will occur Monday through Friday during normal business hours. For more information about the stage call 249-0620 or email Daley at ldaley@milford.nh.gov.

Kathy Cleveland may be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@nashuatelegraph.com.