The Epsom Trojan Horse you once loved is in bad shape

  • The Epsom Trojan Horse had its nose taken off by a truck making a U-turn. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The Epsom Trojan House, once a popular tourist attraction, is ready for a bonfire as it sits on Sandy Boulanger’s property in Chichester. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • This horse, once a popular tourist attraction, is ready for a bond fire as it sits on Sandy Boulanger’s property in Chichester on Route 28 near the border of Pittsfield. “œHe’€™s in bad shape now,”€ admitted Sandy Boulanger, who owns the Epsom Trojan Horse that once stood as a proud state landmark. “œWe planned on a new one and giving it back to the town, but it’€™s just not a priority right now.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Sandy Boulanger, who owns the Epsom Trojan Horse, sits at the Nature’s Country Farm Stand in Epsom last week.

  • The property on Route 4 in Epsom where the Trojan horse stood for many years. It is now for sale and in disrepair. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Epsom Trojan Horse is surrounded by grave markings signifying countries’ entry into the Soviet Union. On the horse’s side is a sign that reads, “The U.N. is a Trojan horse in America.” Courtesy

Monitor columnist
Published: 9/2/2018 4:07:40 PM

For this old horse, the glue factory won’t do.

Neither will retirement in some quiet, neatly manicured field. This horse stands on discarded pieces of plywood and wooden planks and tree branches and weeds.

This horse’s coat, wood with no shellac or finish or sanding, is an army of splinters waiting to attack at the slightest touch. This horse leans hard to the right, its wheels are off to the side, buried in the brush, and the panels that formed the rib cage are either missing or dangling.

This horse, once a popular tourist attraction, is ready for a bonfire.

“He’s in bad shape now,” admitted Sandy Boulanger, who owns the Epsom Trojan Horse that once stood as a proud state landmark. “We planned on a new one and giving it back to the town, but it’s just not a priority right now.”

She said her husband, William, a builder, will build a new horse one day, with metal and wood. But life gets in the way, things like the farm stand business and work on their home in Chichester.

Where that poor horse lives.

It once stood in Epsom, on the road that connects Concord to the Seacoast. Some called it Route 9 or 4 or 202. Some called it Franklin Pierce Highway or Dover Road.

That never mattered, though. What mattered was the horse’s consistency, the anticipation it built as cars approached, the secure feeling that the seasons changed and businesses came and went, but the good old Trojan Horse would always be there, waiting, watching, almost winking.

Heading east, everyone knew it was a half-mile past the Epsom rotary, on the left side, standing proudly with purpose and intrigue and an odd metaphorical message attached to it for four decades.

These days, its history is still unfolding, its future dark. Boulanger owns it and put it in that huge backyard in Chichester, where she moved with her husband two years ago. She also owns the nearby Nature’s Country Farm Stand in Epsom.

She explained the horse’s history to the best of her ability. Her long mane, silvery blond, looked a lot better than the mane I had seen earlier in the day, on that old horse.

Boulanger said the horse came down from Maine in 1977, brought here by the late Barbara Anderson, the former owner of what used to be a hotel, nursing home and tavern. It’s now boarded up, sheets flapping in the wind, weeds growing and poles protruding from the ground, once the stabilizing force for the horse.

Sometime after ’77, Anderson began to place little white crosses near the horse, each with the name of a country that had been sucked into the Soviet Union-led communist empire.

The little graveyard grew around the big horse, originally 12 feet tall. A sign that read, “The U.N. is a Trojan horse in America,” meant the sovereignty of the United States was being threatened from within by the United Nations in New York City, a local official told the Monitor 2½ years ago.

The property changed hands once before the Boulangers bought it eight years ago. Meanwhile, word had spread, about the terrific photo op in a small New Hampshire town.

Kids posed in front of it and under it. A pickup truck making a U-turn clipped its nose, knocking it off. Pranksters once wheeled it into the middle of the nearby traffic circle. Another time they torched it. (Rebuilt, it now stands 10 feet).

Still another time someone nailed signs, one on each side, that read, “Vote for Hillary Clinton.”

“That came down quickly,” Boulanger said. “People climbed on it and we put a sign out that said, ‘Please do not climb on me. I’m old and not sturdy.’ ”

All the while, Boulanger and her husband kept their sense of humor.

Boulanger said a man about 300 pounds nearly made it to the top before William told him to get down. She said the couple helped bandage a woman’s bloody wound after she fell near the horse during a group bike ride.

“We helped her and then took her picture in front of the horse,” Boulanger said.

She said kids would climb from below the horse, through an opening in the belly.

“I’d put the kids inside and take the picture from below,” Boulanger said.

Things became a bit more serious when the bank foreclosed on the Boulanger property, forcing the couple to move their home and business up Route 28.

They wanted the horse, of course, and in fact had had ownership of it written into the purchase-and-sale agreement for the Epsom property.

But, according to Boulanger, then-select board Chairman Don Harty wanted the horse to stay where it was and continue as part of the town’s charm.

Neither Boulanger nor Harty were eager to discuss an old wound, and their conversation that day more than two years ago was overheard by no one.

Boulanger saw the irony in that Epsom officials originally hated the horse when Anderson brought it to town. She said she had seen old newspaper articles documenting the town’s displeasure with the big fella. They thought it was an eyesore.

But then, after it had become a smash hit, Harty tried to bully Boulanger into leaving it behind, she said.

“Oh yes he did,” Boulanger told me. “He said he’s got to go back to Epsom. I was harassed by the town.”

You could practically hear Harty, who served two terms on the board, roll his eyes through the phone. He claims he told Boulanger that the town would work with her, roll out the red carpet, do whatever it could to keep the horse where it belonged.

But he knew Boulanger owned it and said their conversation that day was civil. No bullying. No intimidation.

And besides, the horse had no significant historical value to Epsom. Not when you consider Revolutionary War hero Andrew McClary, killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

And not when you see the Muster Field Monument, marking the spot in which McClary was plowing when the war broke out and he jumped on a real horse.

“This is not my favorite subject,” Harty told me. “It’s a very sore subject for me. I stepped in to help when it was being moved and it backfired, and after that I walked away and never did anything about it. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and the last I knew it was rotting away in Chichester.”

Yes, it is. The horse is hard to see in warm weather, when view-blocking trees come alive. It’s easier in winter.

Its wheels fell off on the truck ride to Chichester. The setting off Route 28 is no longer glamorous, and the horse looks lonely, tucked away in a far corner of the yard.

Boulanger said the horse is “most likely” destined for a bonfire. She said her husband still plans to build a new one, and she’s willing to move it back to Epsom, perhaps near the library or historical society.

Kids still visit the old one, Boulanger said, but it’s not the same attention-grabber. Not even close.

“We’ll give it a decent burial,” she said. “It’ll go up quick with that tinder. Maybe the new one will last another 50 years.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304, or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

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