New Hampshire Tidbits: David B. Varney Memorial at Derryfield Park in Manchester

Varney Memorial at Derryfield Park, Manchester NH. Photograph copyright J.W. Brown. Do not use without permission.

A few years ago I took several photographs of Derryfield Park in Manchester New Hampshire. In this collection are photos of a memorial, dedicated in 1955 to honor David B. Varney, a Republican Mayor of Manchester between 1889-1890. Oddly enough the City of Manchester’s web site with description of Derryfield Park does not even mention it.  The memorial is in plain view as you drive along Bridge Street and the edge of the park.

—–The Monument—–
The memorial itself is inscribed as follows:
Dedicated 1955
In Grateful
Memory of
Mayor of

The Smithsonian Museum maintains database of memorials and sculptures that were part of the “Save Outdoor Sculpture” — a program initiated by Heritage Preservation: The National Institute of Conservation between 1989-1998.  It contains information on the artists who created these works of art, an details of the statues, monuments and artwork.

Likeness of David B. Varney from Manchester. A brief record of its past and a picture of its present, including an account of its settlement and of its growth as a town and city; a history of its schools, churches, societies, banks., Maurice D. Clark, 1875

Smithsonian Institution records
Dedicated 28 Aug 1955
Sculptor: Francois Trudel Bourcier
Relief plaque, Bronze; Memorial granite: walkway flagstone or colored slate
Save Outdoor Sculpture, New Hampshire survey, 1993. Manchester Union Leader, Aug. 24, 1955, pg. 3. (Lower right corner of relief plaque, incised lettering:) FRANCOISE TRUDEL BOURCIER/SCULPTOR/1955 (Below relief plaque, on center of memorial, incised lettering:) DEDICATED 1955/IN GRATEFUL/MEMORY OF/DAVID B./VARNEY/MAYOR OF/MANCHESTER/1889.1890/(City of Manchester seal)/VARNEY MEMORIAL COMM./(list of six names follow) (Left side of memorial, above bench, incised lettering:) LET US NOT FORGET THAT WE ARE THE SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE (Right side of memorial, above bench, incised lettering:) LET US SEE TO IT THAT THEIR CONFIDENCE WAS NOT MISPLACED/INAUGURAL ADDRESS JAN.1, 1889 signed. Summary: This memorial to former Manchester, New Hampshire Mayor David B. Varney consists of a tall rectangular slab of polished granite featuring a bronze relief portrait of Varney at the top and the City of Manchester seal engraved at the bottom. Two polished granite benches flank the bottom of the central slab and a flagstone walkway leads to the front of the memorial. Originally there was a drinking fountain, but it is now missing and only the square base remains.

—–Reason for Monument Placement—–
I wondered why such a monument would be placed in this particular park. The mystery was solved through a biographical listing in The Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New Hampshire; Under the editorial supervision of Col. James A. Ellis, American Historical Society, published in 1919.  The bio describes the then-Mayor Varney’s accomplishments:”During his administration as mayor of Manchester included sewer construction, a “fine grammar school building in West Manchester,” purchased 75 acres that is now part of Derryfield Park. At the end of his administration he purchased (with city money of course) in 1890 the land known as Stark Park.”  [SEE Original 1841 deed Derryfield Park]

—–The Man—–

Boston Herald obituary, 1901 of David B. Varney

The popular book, Manchester. A brief record of its past and a picture of its present, including an account of its settlement and of its growth as a town and city; a history of its schools, churches, societies, banks., by Maurice D. Clark, published 1875 provides an excellent biography. (Editor’s Note: David B. Varney had not yet been mayor at the publishing of this article). “David Blake Varney was born in Tuftonborough, NH August 27, 1822. He is the son of Luther and Lydia (Blake) Varney, and was one of four children, two sons and two daughters, of whom, besides himself, one brother survives–Edward, who resides in Boston. When he was four years of age he moved with his parents to Dover N.H. where he remained till he was sixteen years of age, helping his father upon the farm and acquiring an education in the Dover schools. In 1838 he went to Portsmouth to learn the trade of a machinist, where he spent three years. Then returning to Dover he worked two years there and in March, 1843, came to this city [Manchester NH] and worked at his trade in the Amoskeag Company’s machine-shop. In 1854 he was appointed superintendent of the locomotive department and remained in the shop till 1857. He then entered into partnership with H.I. Darling, for the manufacture of brass and copper work, and the firm, under the name of Darling & Varney, began business in the foundry on Manchester Street. Mr. Darling died in 1868 and left him proprietor of an extensive business, which he has since managed alone. Mr. Varney was a member from ward three in the city of the popular branch of the state legislature in 1871 and 1872 and has been a director of the Amoskeag National Bank since January, 1874. He married in 1848 Harriet B. Kimball of this city, by whom he has had three daughters, of whom two are now living–Emma L. and Annie M. Mr. Varney has been a very popular man with all who knew him ever since he came to this city. His mental qualities are all good and practical and always at his command, Indebted to his own skill and foresight for his pecuniary success, liberal and genial, he has always been a highly respected citizen. He is a man who could obtain the suffrages of the people whenever he would allow his name to be used, but he has never been ambitious to hold a conspicuous place in public affairs.”

Postcard showing Varney School, Manchester NH. Manchester Historic Association online Catalog. Used with permission.

In addition, Varney School, now a historical building at 84 Varney Street in Manchester NH was named in his honor.  The school was built in 1890, and later enlarged in 1914-15. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and converted to residential use. David Blake Varney died  25 March 1901 and is buried in Valley Cemetery, Manchester NH.

—–The sculptor, Francoise Trudel Bourcier—–
As for the monument’s sculptor–Francoise Trudel Bourcier, the research was quite lean. She was a female sculptor, daughter of Charles J. & Marie (Turcotte) Trudel. She grew up on Dubuque Street in Manchester and possibly graduated from Manchester West High school as she later sponsored an advertisement in their yearbook. She was the wife of Rene L. Bourcier whom she married 27 June 1934 in Manchester NH. In 1951 (and other years) Francois Trudel Bourcier was a member of the Manchester Art Commission, serving along with John W. Noga and Maud Briggs Knowlton. She was among 7 women given recognition at a dinner meeting of the Manchester Business and Professional Women’s Club with the theme “Leadership in a Democratic World” in March of 1963.

In addition to sculpting the Varney memorial in Derryfield Park, other known New Hampshire sculptures she created include Christos Kalivas sculpture found in Kalivas Park, Manchester NH; and the Bust of Bishop Georges A. Guertin at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Manchester NH (dedicated in 1962). According to the Patriot Ledger newspaper of 10 July 1942, Quincy MA, page 11: “Mrs. [Francois Trudel] Bourcier has just completed a bronze plaque for the Grenier air base in Manchester N.H. of Lieut. Jean Grenier, U.S. army flier who died in the service of his country in 1934…..”

I found her obituary in The San Francisco Examiner of 18 Oct 2000 page 19:
BOURCIER, Francoise Trudel–In San Francisco on Oct 14, 2000. Born 12/2/1905 in Manchester N.H. she became an accomplished artist and sculptress. She gave her family and the world her love of life, her kindness and generosity, her indomitable spirit, and an unfailing optimism. She was the beloved wife of her late husband Rene, and is survived by her daughter Denyse, her son George and daughter-in-law Catherine, her grand-children, Caroline and Philip Bourcier, her God-child Rolande Sharon and many nieces and nephews. A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church at Laguna Honda Blvd & Ulloa St. San Francisco.

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