Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


May 22, 2008

Town's WWI cannon, focal point of the Park, on leave

Andover's green space known as The Park is missing one of its most recognizable features: the World War I-era cannon near the intersection of Chestnut and Bartlet streets.

And, no it hasn't been stolen or vandalized. The cannon, a French 75 — an actual piece of artillery captured from the Germans, not a replica — has been taken to be refurbished and given a new set of wheels.

"It would be pretty hard for someone to steal that and get away without being noticed," laughed Andover's Plant and Facilities Department Director Joe Piantedosi.

The footprint where the cannon, a focal point of the Park and a magnet for children to climb on, once stood has been filled in with wood chips. The cannon will be missing for Memorial Day — and for the Fourth of July, too.

Michael Burke, Andover's director of veteran's services, said the work to fix the cannon has been in the works for about a year. He estimated that it will take the entire summer to have the wooden wheels refurbished by a specialist.

The cannon itself will be sandblasted and repainted by a team of students from the Greater Lawrence Technical School. Once finished, the cannon should be back home in the Park this fall, "before the snow flies," Burke said.

Due to moisture and wear over the years, the cannon's wooden wheels began to rot and the spokes were splintering. Burke wanted to get the cannon out of the Park and away from young climbers this spring, because the deteriorating wheels had become a danger, he said.

"After 15 years (outside) in New England, that's what happens," Burke said. "I made the call to pull it off the Park."

On Monday, the cannon's wheels began to collapse as soon as the weapon was moved, he noted.

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