‘Jew Pond’ Sparks Controversy in Rural New Hampshire

March 14, 2012  

Residents of a New Hampshire town have voted to rename a fishing and skating spot that’s been called “Jew Pond” since the 1920s, the Associated Press reported.

The pond in Mount Vernon was purchased by two Jewish attorneys from Boston, in 1928 and became known as the “Jew Pond,” said Rich Masters, a resident who proposed the name change

“I, frankly, find it to be inappropriate, disrespectful to some people, and I feel it needs to be changed,” said Masters.  

He noted that the pond was originally named Spring Pond, because the owners of a hotel created it by digging up a spring to irrigate their golf course, AP noted. Masters explained, however, that the owners made clear in a brochure that Jewish guests were not welcome.

The small town controversy elicited a mixed reaction from residents of the area.

“I don’t know if it was meant to be offensive or not, but if people are offended by the name I don’t see why we shouldn’t change it,” Bill Davidson, who has lived in Mount Vernon for 13 years, said Tuesday.

Lawrence and Annette Rondo, who also live in the area, disagreed. They claimed that changing the name is “stupid” and that “people just like to stir up trouble.”

Resident Tom McKinney agreed, saying, “It’s much ado about very little,”

“It’s too bad it’s gotten to be such an issue when it’s never even referred to or portrayed in a negative way,” said Mount Vernon Historical Society member Zoe Fimbel, who has lived in the town for 31 years,. “It’s more like, ‘It’s the Jew’s Pond. The new man in town.’”

Resident Kevin Schmidlein thought the name should be changed and claimed that if the rural New Hampshire town is “ going to be known for something, I’d rather it be for something other than this.”

While Jews are known to live in the area, it does not seem that the town, which is located about 35 miles southwest of the state capital of Concord, has many Jewish residents, as the only synagogue Masters said he was aware of is in the city of Nashua, about 15 miles away.

Proposed new names for the pond include Carleton Pond and the original Spring Pond.

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