A gazebo honoring veterans’ at Waterside Cemetery has fallen into disrepair after years of neglect, prompting calls for its restoration from community members who consider it a treasured spot.
The worn, once-white wooden structure sits on a hilltop surrounded by headstones in the veterans’ section of the cemetery, overlooking the harbor. For decades, it has provided a peaceful place to reflect and remember fallen heroes who served this country.
But weathering over time has taken a toll. The gazebo’s wood is now warped and gray, with peeling paint and areas of rot. The metal support beams are corroded with rust. The roof was replaced in the mid-2000s.
“It is a place of peace and solace. It is where veterans come to sit with their comrades, often the only people they feel will listen. It is the place where families come to sit with loved ones, to feel close, to laugh, to cry,” said Marblehead resident Joan Cutler, whose husband, Hooper Cutler, is buried in the veteran lot.
“It is the place where children and grandchildren can sit and hear stories about who they came from while learning history as it was lived.”
It deserves our respect and attention, not neglect, Cutler said. She and her late husband used to regularly enjoy afternoon coffee together in the gazebo, admiring the view. But she first noticed deterioration at least 10 years ago.
“It became alarmingly so as I increased my time there following Hooper’s death in June 2020,” said Cutler. “I had shared my concerns often with various people searching for solutions.”
Cutler pointed out the gazebo’s current state of disrepair heading into Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 16, when volunteers place holiday wreaths on veterans’ graves nationwide. She had hoped repairs could be done in time for the meaningful event honoring fallen service members.
Now Cutler and other concerned citizens are renewing their call for urgent action. They have brainstormed potential solutions like an Eagle Scout service project, donated lumber or labor from local construction companies, or a volunteer restoration initiative by veterans’ groups.
“The sad fact is that with proper funding and preventative maintenance, it would not be as it is,” said Cutler. “Let’s change that. It will require active engagement and commitment. Oh, just a second — aren’t they exactly what those now at rest gave for us?”