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The Boston Globe


Civil War-era cannon gets a fresh look for Methuen

It is unknown whether this cannon had a Civil War role.

Greater Lawrence Technical School

It is unknown whether this cannon had a Civil War role.

A 19th-century cannon that had fallen into disrepair as it sat outside the Quinn Building on Hampshire Street for several decades in Methuen has received a necessary refurbishment and will be unveiled Thursday, the Methuen Historical Society said.

After concerns arose about the cannon’s deteriorating state — the wooden wheels had rotted and its barrel was pitted, becoming green and moldy — the restoration project was undertaken by students at the Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover, with support from the mayor as well as the historical society, said Denis Webster-Greene, president of the Methuen Historical Society.

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“There has certainly been resurgence in care and restoration of Methuen’s history,” Webster-Greene said.

The cannon is a 12-pounder bronze gun, referred to as a Napoleon, and it dates to about 1840, Webster-Greene said. It is unknown whether it was used in the Civil War.

The restoration is being used as a teaching tool for 11th- and 12th-grade students at the Greater Lawrence school, who received the cannon in the spring from the city and just finished restoration efforts after the summer break, said Heidi Riccio, director of career technical education at the school.

The cannon was purchased in 1880 by Henry Coffin Nevins, of the prominent Nevins family in Methuen, along with other members of the Grand Army of the Republic. The members pulled together $250 to purchase the gun.

The cannon will be on display at an open house in the Automotive Collision career area at Greater Lawrence Technical School from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. The cannon will also be fired using paper on open land in the back of the school, Riccio said.

The gun will then be moved to a permanent location inside the Searles Building, on Pleasant Street in Methuen.

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at

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