Most people call it the gazebo. But you might also hear pagoda,
ramada, even belvedere. Whatever the name, its evocations are
universal: weddings, picnics, a rendezvous, a blurry photograph
of a beloved, long-gone grandparent.
The Elizabeth Park gazebo, for generations the centerpiece of
the internationally renowned rose garden, had fallen on hard
times in recent years. Beams had rotted beneath a tangle of vines,
and the gazebo was unsightly and dangerous. But today it's looking
as fresh as when it was first built generations ago. In the past
two months, the gazebo has been rebuilt. Wonderful to relate,
the new one is an exact replica of the old; the design, materials
and craftsmanship are identical. Even the trees that form the
beams for the structure were grown at a local Glastonbury farm.
"I've been building houses for 50 years and nobody told
me how," said Harold Webb, as he planed the ragged bark
off an aromatic red cedar beam one April morning. "I was
hungry, so I learned how. Putting it together is the easy part
- the hard part's getting the trucks in here without damaging
the rose bushes."
Webb, who describes himself
as a "farmer from Bolton," worked
with his son, James, and a crew of young construction workers
assembled by Capitol Restoration to rebuild the gazebo from the
stone foundation up. The younger men scrambled around the frame
while the older man hoisted the fragrant beams up to them. The
rosebuds were still slammed shut, so a scattering of little cedar
hockey pucks cut from the beams' ends made the garden smell like
a secret closet.
Park officials should be commended for having the good sense
and fine eye to recognize this was one design worth leaving alone.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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