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State House to be open for tours on select Saturdays in 2017



Monitor staff
Thursday, October 05, 2017

Anyone curious to explore the State House during a weekend visit to Concord is in luck: The building will be open again for tours for three upcoming dates after last year’s open houses exceeded expectations.

Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, said each of last year’s three open weekends attracted more than 200 visitors a day, and he expects this year’s dates – Oct. 7, Oct. 14 and Dec. 9 – to be no different. The State House was also opened in May during the Capital Arts Fest.

“A lot of people collect state capitals – they want to go to every one in the country,” Sink said. “We found a lot of times those visits were happening on weekends.”

The tours came about after the Joint Committee on Legislative Facilities approved a memorandum of understanding drawn up by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce last year. That understanding was made possible when House Bill 1531 passed during spring 2016, allowing legislators to enter an agreement with a private entity to open the State House to the public.

Sink said security and staffing for the tours is provided by local businesses, who this year have chipped in around $3,000 in funding. Those sponsors this year are Northeast Delta Dental; Cleveland, Waters and Bass, P.A.; the Duprey Companies; Marshall’s Florist; and New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association.

Prior to last year’s event, the State House hadn’t been open on weekends for more than a decade, when a similar effort ended because of poor financing and publicity.

If all goes well, Sink said, there’s a possibility the program will be expanded to include more weekend dates. But funding will always be a barrier; the state chips in none of the cost, and it takes about $1,200-$1,500 per day to host the weekend tours.

But it’s worth it, Sink said, to capitalize on the building’s status as the oldest state capital where legislators meet in their original chambers.

“There’s a tremendous amount of history and artwork on display,” he said. “The State House is one of the most popular attractions in the city.”

Admission is free. Tours will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and depart every half-hour from the State House Visitor Center at 107 N. Main St. in Concord. Areas shown will be the Hall of Flags, Representatives Hall, Senate Chambers and more.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)