In 1947, due to lack of town funding for uniforms, eight men formed the Boosters Club, paying for football and band uniforms. The club continued doing good deeds for years. The Punchard Alumni Association, thriving for decades, gathered once a year to talk and celebrate. After the name changed in 1957 to the Punchard-Andover Alumni Association, it died after a few years, or at least gave a good imitation of doing so.
Maybe it was the unusual name that gave Punchard a certain cachet or mystique. Punchard, or Punch Hard — what was it, out-of-towners and newcomers asked, and where did the name come from? The answer: Benjamin Punchard’s money (inflation calculators estimate his gift would be worth close to $2 million today) paid for the first town high school that was built in 1856 and then paid for the one that replaced it a few years later. The remainder of this bequest, with the help of donations from a few other townspeople, still contributes to scholarships and programs through the Punchard Trustees.
The last Punchard Building was built in 1917, but was abandoned as a school only 40 years later, in 1957. It was converted to the town municipal building in the 1980s.
This Friday, at 9:30 a.m., a ceremony is being held in the Town Offices building to unveil a plaque that describes the building’s history. Thanks largely to a private citizen, Robert Stefani, a Punchard alumni who advocated for the plaque, and Earl Efinger, who was chairman of the Punchard Trustees for years, one more step is being taken to preserve the Punchard legacy. I had the honor of assisting in the plaque’s wording, and perhaps doing so slightly assuaged the boy within me who wanted to go to Punchard.
For more information on Punchard and why the name changed, please email BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com. His somewhat regular column will be a continuing feature under “Opinion” in the Andover Townsman.