‘Piecing’ together history at The Wright

At the Wright Museum of WWII in Wolfeboro, many individuals have contributed to making it one of the region’s most visited museums, including John Thurston.

“John owns The Green and Granite Landscaping and has played an integral part in beautifying our grounds over the years,” said Mike Culver, executive director of the museum.

He said Thurston’s most recent work, however, might represent his most lasting contribution to The Wright.

“He completed our walkway to the Remembrance Garden, which transforms the space and invites all people who live here or passing through to come and visit us,” explained Culver. “We are very appreciative for all the projects he has completed at the museum.”

Facing Center Street in Wolfeboro, the Remembrance Garden is a public space with plantings, granite benches and flag poles framed by the exterior wall of the museum upon which hundreds of memorial bricks are affixed.  

“Everyone can now walk around the front of the museum and take advantage of this spectacular setting and spend thoughtful time remembering those who have served,” said Culver.

The region’s leading resource for educators and learners of all ages on World War II, The Wright features more than 14,000 items in its collection that are representative of both the home front and battle field.   

According to Thurston, his involvement at The Wright resulted from his association and friendship with Founder David Wright.

“One of my first jobs was working for David at his home in Tuftonboro,” he said. “David called their home ‘her house,’ which meant his wife Carole, and he called the Wright Museum ‘his house.’”

Thurston, said David wanted ‘his’ house to be better looking than ‘hers’.

“He asked me to come work at the museum,” he laughed.

Referring to The Wright as “one of [his] first clients and probably one of [his] last,” Thurston said he has seen many changes through the years.

John Thurston in the Remembrance Garden at the Wright Museum

“The museum wasn’t always so busy,” he said. “Now, the parking lot fills up — even with a pandemic. So many people want to go back. They can’t see enough and appreciate it all.”

He said the museum especially appeals to him because it focuses on the home-front.

“One of its focuses is on what people did at home to help during the war,” he said. “All the history is rewarding, though, just reliving history is a gift in itself. When you are in there, you relive history.”

In reflecting on his years at The Wright, Thurston said he cannot help but remember times spent with David, whom he described as “a gentleman.”

“He was a little man who smoked a cigarette and ate hot dogs everyday for lunch,” he recounted. “He wore his baseball cap with the Wright Museum written on it. We’re all fortunate because he was here.”

Culver agreed and said The Wright is equally fortunate for the work performed by Thurston over the years.

“The Wright would not be what it is today without the support of many people, including John, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty on many occasions,” he said.

Thurston added, “The places I have created around town are from the heart…I love my town and want it to be beautiful.”

As for the future, he said he is not sure what it will bring, as he said things in life build on each other in Wolfeboro.

“I will read a lot and continue to educate myself and learn from other people,” he said. “All those little steps — a piece here and a piece there. I’m still adding to those pieces.”