Former Speakers Reminisce as the N.H. House Retires its Gavel

Aug 27, 2015

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is going through a historic change this summer as it retires its current gavel and the striking post that has seen every House Speaker since George Roberts. The former striking post was made of laminate particle beam, circa 1975, and needed to be replaced after extensive splintering rendered it unable to perform its duty. 

We spoke with former Speaker of the House Terie Norelli who offered her thoughts about the new gavels and striking post.

I just think it’s a great idea, we have been working recent years to update the technology in the statehouse, changing the old voting stations and the reporting boards for everyone to see more information and this seems like the logical extension of that because the beam that was there was in quite bad shape, and so I think it’s totally appropriate and I’m excited they’re updating the beam and the gavels.

As well as some of the most memorable moments with the outgoing gavel.

There was another speaker that brought down the gavel and it came off the handle. I think there are a lot of people that remember that…I believe it was Speaker Scamman.

We were able to reach former Speaker Doug Scamman and he assured us he did not break the gavel in 2005. 

It’s not me that broke the gavel in 2005, no. I got elected again in 2005, the clerk Karen Wadsworth broke the handle of the gavel and I had had one that I had brought home when I was Speaker before that I took back and used that, so I’m not sure that the gavel goes back to 1975.  

Regardless of who was responsible, we like to imagine it was similar to this moment in 2014 when former Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts broke the New York Stock Exchange gavel:

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Former Speaker Norelli also related her favorite personal moment with the outgoing gavel.

When you hit the gavel, it is the call of the vote. And so, hitting the gavel to call the vote on marriage equality will stay with me forever.  

The two new gavels and striking post, the latter described in a press release as “rugged,” were crafted from New Hampshire walnut and will debut in the House of Representatives at the beginning of the new session on September 16th.