Building Dedication Held for Van McLeod, A Champion of N.H. Arts and Culture

Jul 19, 2017

Governor Chris Sununu, joined by Joan Goshgarian, widow of Van McLeod, and their daughter Chelsea, during the bill signing ceremony.
Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR

An unassuming brick building in Concord now carries the name of one of the most tireless promoters of the state’s arts and cultural assets.

On Tuesday afternoon, friends, relatives and lawmakers gathered in the shade of a large tree for a bill signing and dedication ceremony of the Van McLeod Building, the new formal name for the offices of the state’s Department of Cultural Resources on Pillsbury Street. McLeod, who died last summer at the age of 70, served as Commissioner of the Department for 24 years.

“You never met a guy with a small budget but a bigger heart,” joked Governor Chris Sununu. He remembered McLeod as a quiet but tireless advocate for his department. He was constantly figuring out ways to do more with less.

“He was always there to try to explain the value they were bringing, what they were trying to do, where they thought they could go further with things. Innovations they wanted to try. And let me tell you, we are in Concord, y’all know there is a lot of complaining. He never complained.”

McLeod was an ally to the state’s artists, filmmakers and librarians, frequently promoting the state’s cultural resources as a key driver not only of the New Hampshire economy, but also the region’s quality of life.

“He saw the creative economy as a vital part of New Hampshire,” said Michael York, New Hampshire State Librarian. “He worked with six governors and countless legislators to make sure that they understood why culture is important.”

Van McLeod

McLeod’s widow, Joan Goshgarian, standing alongside their daughter Chelsea, thanked the state for its recognition.

“So we never really know what the years ahead will bring us, but I hope that this building, the Van McLeod Building, will always be the place where past, present and future, connections sometimes of seemingly disparate ideas, and culture and humanity, are respected, nurtured, and intersect.”

Van McLeod, during his life, would talk frequently about the brick building with yellow trim at 19 Pillsbury Street. At one time, it was the maternity ward of the Margaret Pillsbury General Hospital. McLeod was born in the same building that will now bear his name.