The John C. White Memorial Playground in 1975


Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

By Dorothy D. Holman
{1895 -- 1984}

Hampton Beachcomber, August 20, 1975

Edited By John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

Happy children enjoying the free playground at Hampton Beach, N.H.
[Great Boar's Head & "(water) Standpipe" in the background.]

Soon, another season of fun and play for the children in the playground at Hampton Beach will be coming to an end. Few, if any, are aware of its history, or to whom they are indebted for this safe and enjoyable spot.

The idea originated in the mind of one man, who was deeply concerned for the safety and pleasure of the young people who came to the Beach each summer. That man was the late JOHN C. WHITE, a well-known and much-loved figure on the Beach, who for many years, operated a store in partnership with Joseph Dudley.

He was "Jack" to his friends and was respected by all who knew him. Fond of children, he saw the need to keep them occupied and off the streets, and building castles in the sand was not enough. So, at their own expense, he and his partner placed the first piece of equipment there. To that piece, others were added through the years, until today (1975), the playground is the largest and best equipped of any around. This was Mr. White's dream, but he died before seeing his dream realized.

However, others took up the torch, and the late George Ashworth and the Precinct Commissioners took the plan to heart and brought it to completion, continuing in its maintenance from year to year.

The original Precinct Playground

The original Precinct Playground.
[Photo courtesy Edwin L. Batchelder, Jr.]

Swings, climbing ladders, teeter boards, merry-go-rounds and slides are all to be found in this fenced-in area, and thousands of children each summer participate in and enjoy the various facilities. The playground is staffed with trained supervisors, and parents can leave their children there with confidence, knowing they will be well taken care of until they return to pick them up. It is equipped with a drinking fountain, an observation post for the convenience of the attendants, and seats are provided for adults who like to watch children at play.

Although at first, a wooden fence surrounded it, now (1975) it is enclosed in a sturdier, more durable woven wire. The original location was on the sands opposite A and B Streets, but when the State built the new seawall in the 1950's, the playground was relocated south of the Casino. However, in 1954, it was again moved to its present location.

Long view of playground

The "old" Playground

Mr. White's sudden death in January 1927, came as a great shock to the community, and it wasn't long afterward that the playground was officially opened with much fan-fare, including daylight fireworks, flags waving, and balloons floating in the air over the heads of thousands of spectators. Three bands provided the music for the parade of hundreds of costumed children, the line of march along the boulevard ending at the playground where dedicatory exercises were held on July 27, 1927.

The new playground

The "new" Playground

The sign over the arched entrance reads "JOHN C. WHITE MEMORIAL PLAYGROUND" and was a gift from Mr. Dudley in memory of his partner. It was a fitting memorial to a man who had the welfare and happiness of children at heart, and this play area will give fun and pleasure to countless little ones for years to come. Although now known as the "Hampton Beach Precinct Playground", it will always be remembered that this attractive and worthwhile facility at Hampton Beach is there because of one man's dream.

Happy children romp & play in safety in the White Memorial Playground.

New Playground Is Dedicated At Hampton [Beach]

The Portsmouth Herald, Thursday, July 28, 1927

John C. White
John C. White,
Beach fire captain,
from Hampton Union,
December 9, 1909

Hampton Beach, July 28 -- The John C. White Memorial playground was dedicated yesterday afternoon by the Hampton and Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce in the presence of a large number of summer residents. The playground, 250x75 feet, is located on the ocean side of the boulevard, between B and C streets. It is erected in memory of John C. White for many year's treasurer of the old Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce here. Mr. White died suddenly last January at St. Petersburg, Fla.

At 2 o'clock there was a parade. Appropriate exercises were held at the playground. Pres. George Ashworth of the Chamber of Commerce acted as master of ceremonies and the exercises began by singing "America," led by Chester Grady and Mrs. Esther B. Coombs. Invocation was by Rev. Edgar Warren of [the First Congregational Church of] Hampton. The playground was turned over to the people of Hampton Beach and Hampton by President Ashworth. Rt. Rev. Mgr. J. S. Buckley, D.C.L., V.G., P.A., of Manchester who is in charge of services at St. Patrick's church here, accepted the playground on behalf of the people. John H. Bartlett, now acting postmaster general, delivered the address and paid a high tribute to the memory of Mr. White.

An American flag was raised on the flagpole by Master Leighton Armington of Nashua, nephew of Mr. White, and little Miss Pearl Kierstead of Hampton. Refreshments were served to the children. The program closed with the awarding of prizes in the children's parade and a display of daylight fireworks.

President Ashworth headed the committee in charge. F. Alfred Janvrin of Hampton, had charge of the designing of the playground, which is fully equipped with installed swings, teeter-boards, slides, ladders, flying rings, merry-go-round devices and other pieces of apparatus.