WELLINGTON, Maine — They don’t have a store, a post office or a school, but Wellington residents likely have something unique in the state, a gazebo made through volunteer efforts.
The 12-foot-diameter stone gazebo located at the recreation field on Kingsbury Road took pounds of rock, 75 bags of mortar, 13 yards of concrete, hundreds of feet of rebar and many hours of hard labor by young and old to build.
“What this is, is really an attempt at a community building,” resident Richard Garrett said Saturday as he and others put the finishing touches on the structure. “We hope this is a destination where people can have weddings, parties, picnics and programs under cover.”
The gazebo features colored rocks, including a fossilized rock in the shape of the state of Maine that was donated by Wally Warren of Ripley. Built-in chalkboards make the structure appealing to children.
Garrett’s wife, Martha Young, pushed for the gazebo. The couple had traveled to Lowell, Mass., a few years ago to see their son participate in a college rugby game when they became lost. While they were trying to find their way, a stone gazebo caught Young’s eye.
“We’ve got to build one of them,” Young recalled telling her husband. It took three years, but it was worth the wait, she said Saturday, as she watched children and adults work side by side. “It is better than I ever expected. It’s beautiful,” Young marveled. “It took a long time and that’s the one thing: When you finish dreaming, you don’t ever realize how long things will take.”
Young initially had the children in mind for the gazebo. She said the youngsters had used a small storage shed to get undercover during inclement weather until the shed rotted and fell apart. “I just wanted to give them something to replace that,” she said.
“There isn’t anything in this town. We don’t have a Boys Club or a YMCA,” Young said, so efforts have been placed on the recreation center. She said it’s neat to see a group of children walking up the road bouncing a ball headed for the basketball court. “It’s exciting to be able to give them something where they have so little.”
Now they’ll say to each other, “Meet you at the gazebo,” she said.
To help pay for the project, Young wrote a $2,000 grant that was funded through the Maine Community Foundation’s Piscataquis Fund. In addition, the town donated $2,000, and Lincoln and Gloria Ladd of Wayne, whose ancestors are from Wellington, matched the town’s donation.
Architect Allan Christianson of New Jersey, who also has ties to the region, drew the plans at no cost, and Bernie Chadbourne of Ripley was hired to do the masonry work. The majority of the supplies, from the shingles on the roof to the crushed dust on the floor and the rocks, were donated by local businesses.
The $6,000 budget likely would have been $30,000 without the donations and volunteer help from adults and children, Garrett said.
“The thought is, if they [children] help build it, they’ll own it and protect it, and it seems to be working,” he said.
“We don’t have much, but what we do have we love desperately,” Garrett said.
For Garrett and Young, it’s a matter of giving something back to the community.
“We like to be involved with the community and give back,” Young said. “I want to leave this place better than I found it.”