Building where commissioner was born, worked, gets his name
By KATHY McCORMACK
Jul. 18, 2017
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Van McLeod was born in a hospital annex that later was home to some divisions of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, which he once headed. Now, a year after his death, the building has been dedicated in his honor.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed legislation Tuesday afternoon to dedicate 19 Pillsbury St. in Concord the Van McLeod Building.
McLeod, who died last July at age 70, served as commissioner for 24 years, leading the department and its four divisions: arts, film and television, historical resources, and libraries. The first three are headquartered in the building, where he was born in 1945. A granite sign with McLeod's name and a sculpture are planned for the site.
"He was born quickly, in the hallway," said Elizabeth Muzzey, state Historic Preservation Officer. "Even as a baby, Van was ready to go and not too concerned with being conventional."
Speakers highlighted his enthusiasm over projects and his interest in storytelling and hearing others' stories.
"When Van talked to you, it was like you were the only person on the planet," state Sen. Dan Feltes, of Concord, said.
The red brick building served as the maternity annex for the Margaret Pillsbury General Hospital, which opened in 1891. The annex was built in 1927 and opened a year later; it was the last remaining structure from the hospital complex.
It later served as a clinic and eventually housed state offices starting in the 1970s, including the Department of Labor. For years, it was referred to as "Old Labor" — not a reference to the expectant mothers who used to be there.
The annex was added to the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places in 2014. Among the building's distinguishing characteristics are its prominent Colonial Revival-style center entrance flanked by lantern-style lights; its fire-resistant building materials, including brick, slate and tile; and its two-story solarium.
Inside, officials said, the layout of patient rooms is still apparent; extra-wide doors to the rooms would have accommodated hospital gurneys.
Before he was first appointed commissioner, McLeod served as producing director at the North Country Center for the Arts and founded and acted as producing director of First Night Concord.
In 2007, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the New Hampshire Theatre Awards. In 2008, the New Hampshire Film Festival created the annual Van McLeod Achievement Award.
One of the last big projects McLeod worked on was raising money for a bronze statue of former New Hampshire Gov. John Winant in front of the State Library. The statue was dedicated last month.
A nearby plaque reflects that McLeod was "the heart and soul" of the memorial, said Democratic state Rep. Steve Shurtleff, of Concord, who also worked on the project.