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Still Perfect For Weddings

May 29, 2005

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. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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