2012 Ends on a Positive Note
Welcome to the January edition of the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center. The organization’s purpose is to acquaint you with its mission to preserve the town’s rich history, highlight the legacy of those who have gone before and show how our past has shaped the future.
ON A ROLL!
December saw the wheels of the History & Heritage project pick up some speed. We have signed a lease with the Town for the armory for a year. This allows us time to have the building evaluated environmentally. A Brownfields study began on the 10th of December checking out the building from stem to stern and we eagerly await their report in the next two to three months. While it seemed that the wheels were stuck in place for too long – patience did win out. I find that the “two steps forward, three steps back” scenario can sometimes pull too hard on the negative emotions. With the recent developments in the project I have been made aware of the positive aspects. The Board of the History & Heritage Center is tireless in all their efforts on behalf of this project. I owe a huge thanks to Reg Wakeham, Jim Impey, Bob Desrochers, Gail Rossier, Joanne Bertrand, Shara McCaffrey, Martin Bryan, Mike Welch, Susan Crosby Gallagher and David Reynolds. Meetings are held monthly and everyone goes away with more on their plate than when they arrived! The “plate” can contain issues pertaining to insurance, web postings, grant and financial possibilities, estimates for the project, meeting notes to be typed and sent, publicity, new banner, treasurer’s reports, etc. We are all grateful for the volunteer efforts of Jackie Dadourian and Jennifer Paine who are in the office at least once a week working on memberships, collections and my organizational skills – I cannot imagine the project without them! And last but not least, there are my ghosts, when discouraged I find I am visited or haunted by the likes of Claire Dunne Johnson, Graham Newell, George Crosby, Jerry Heon and Willie Pearl!
We started the New Year off right with the front of the Armory lit up, new flags flying, new banner and wreaths on the doors – it looks great. We have a ways to go before we can take up residence so we are eternally grateful for temporary space in the former Summer Street School donated by Jim and Lorraine Impey. I never thought I would be back at my old school! In closing out my positive reflections for the year, I would like to thank those of you who call, write or meet me in the White Market or on the street and inquire as to how we are coming – it helps a great deal. One donor who laughingly said prior to writing a check – “I don’t know how you get this money; you don’t even have a building.” Believe…. it will happen!
I would like to follow up on the November History & Heritage column. It was called St. Johnsbury’s ‘Hope’ and was in reference to the statue of Hope placed on Railroad Street to the memory of James Mitchell who lost his life in a fire on October 27th, 1892. One of the rewards of writing this column is that sometimes you get back far more than you gave. I had an email from Andrea Fitzgerald of the Lisbon Area Historical Society saying that the mystery of two photos they had held onto were of this fire. Lucky for us, she never throws anything away! The actual photos were in rough shape but her expertise with photo shop was superb. The picture looking north on Railroad Street shows an arrow where two men can be seen looking down on the ruins. The ruins in the foreground compared with the buildings before the fire shows parts of the decorative facing of the Ward Block, making even more positive the identification. On receiving the photos, she was right on the mark with the identity and they are now a welcome addition to the archives of the St. J. History & Heritage Center. Thanks ever so much. On behalf of the Board of the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center, we wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Smoke rises from the burned remains of a Railroad Street fire on Oct. 27, 1892. The arrow points to two spectators on the roof of and adjacent building. The picture came to the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center as a gift for the Lisbon Area Historical Society.
The St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center is a non-profit with 501(c)(3)status. The phone number is 802 – 424 – 1090 and mailing address is P.O. Box 223, St. Johnsbury, Vt. 05819. Visit stjhistory.org for additional information and updates.