YOUR HOMETOWN — New Market: Pumped Up: Restoration A Labor Of Love

Police Chief Takes On Project To Refurbish Dilapidated Replica Of 19th Century Water Source

Posted: March 7, 2013

New Market Police Chief Charlie Peery stands next to the replica of the 19th century pump at the corner of Congress and Lee streets. Peery used his woodworking skills to restore the pump, which had fallen into disrepair due to dry rot, cracks and damage from the elements. Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R.
NEW MARKET — Rotting, run-down and rickety, the historic town pump at Congress and Lee streets had seen better days. Until, that is, New Market Police Chief Charlie Peery got his hands on it.

The pump is a replica of one from the 19th century that once stood on the site. It had been about 20 years since anyone had worked on the wooden device, Peery estimated.

When he first inspected it in August, Peery said it was “in rough shape.”

“It had a lot of years of dry rot and was especially rotted around the base,” he said, noting the damage was largely from exposure to the elements.

The project took Peery about three months to complete in the garage workshop he set up years ago beside his New Market home.

These days, woodworking is mostly a hobby for the police chief, who said he used to restore antiques for sale in his wife Faye’s store. He still works with antiques from time to time.

“It’s a stress reliever,” he said. “I’m fascinated at how things were built in the old days before they had all these modern tools.”

Peery said he often uses old-fashioned tools to try to make his work as authentic as possible. Mostly a self-taught woodworker, he learned what he could from friends and community members growing up in the area.

“When I was growing up, I made a point of being around people that would teach me things. I paid a lot of attention,” he said.

The hardest part of the pump project, Peery said, was building a jig that would correctly hold the piece in place.

He then cut off the rotted portions, replaced them with new wood and filled in the cracks caused by the elements.

“The idea was to make it look like it was still one piece of wood,” he said.

He also repainted the pump the same shade of red but with more weather-resistant paint.

Peery said he wasn’t sure how it would turn out as he had never worked on anything like it. But he was happy with the finished product.

So was Town Manager Evan Vass, who had a bit more confidence in the eventual outcome than the craftsman himself.

“We knew Charlie would do a good job,” Vass said. “To have a New Market staff member take that on outside of the working day means a lot to us. [He] provided a great deal of care and attention to the project. ... I’m proud of what he’s done.”

The book “New Market Remembered” references a newspaper article showing a photo of a pump at the site in 1927.  

The same article mentions that a watering hole was present there for over a century, noting the pump was the point from which Confederate Gen. John Breckinridge ordered the charge during the Civil War Battle of New Market in 1864.

Contact Kaitlin Mayhew at 574-6290 or

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