A small body of water in rural New Hampshire, previously dubbed “Jew Pond,” has been officially renamed Carleton Pond, amid local controversy.
The scenic fishing spot was given its name in the 1920s after two Jewish businessmen from Boston bought a hotel there, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The businessmen wanted to reopen the hotel for Jewish guests, who had previously been banned from the lodging as well as from many others in the area.
While the pond had been given other names, including Spring Pond and Fire Pond, “Jew Pond” had made its way into the local vernacular and then onto federal maps in the 1960s, The Nashua Telegraph reported.
“A lot of us kind of cringed that our town would be characterized as having a pond that could be offensive to people and viewed as anti-Semitic,” said Rich Masters, a Mount Vernon health officer. In March, Masters had petitioned the town to change the pond’s name, saying he and others found it offensive.
“We thought it wasn’t a very good name for a pond,” Masters said. “I spoke to some people with a Jewish tradition, and they were not happy about it either.”
“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,” said Bill Davidson, who has lived in Mount Vernon for 13 years.
Other disagreed, however, saying that, “people just like to stir up trouble” and that, “It’s much ado about very little.”
After a year of debate, however, Mount Vernon residents overwhelmingly voted to change the pond's name to Carleton Pond after George O. Carleton who donated it to the town.
The U.S. Geological Survey agreed and, on Friday, officially changed its name.