In 2004 a group of concerned citizens founded the Friends of Stark Park (FSP), an organization whose mission is “to develop, revitalize, maintain and protect the heritage and recreational use of Stark Park as an historic asset of the City of Manchester.” The City of Manchester commissioned a Master Plan for Stark Park. The plan, completed by Landscape Architect Martha Lyon, was presented to the citizens of Manchester in 2005. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends, the park is now listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Several additional objectives established in the Master Plan have been accomplished, including the erection of a bandstand in 2009. The bandstand was paid for entirely with private funds. This project was chosen in order to re-create a similar, but much smaller structure, present in the park’s original design. It was felt that a bandstand would bring people back to the park. This vision was confirmed by a generous memorial matching gift honoring Fred Hecker, the leader of Hecker’s Singing Orchestra of bygone days, and Alfred Hastings, a lover of music. FSP named the bandstand the Hecker*Hastings Bandstand, fulfilling the donor’s wishes.
A second project, completed in August of 2010, was the restoration and repair of the Stark statue and the unveiling of a plaque honoring General Stark. The Norwin S. and Elizabeth Bean Foundation awarded FSP a generous grant to fund all new signage in the park. The work on the statue was performed by Daedalus, Inc., a leader in monument restoration whose past projects include the Brewer Fountain in the Boston Common and the Statue of Freedom, which tops the United States Capital Building. The restoration was completed thanks to grant from the State of New Hampshire and the Ann DeNicola Trust, as well as tireless fundraising by the Friends.
The FSP will continue their work of restoring Stark Park to its former glory, thereby furthering their mission to preserve and protect the heritage of this historic Manchester site.