Vermontscapes May 2022
Six of Vermont’s state-owned historic sites will open for the season on Saturday, May 28, 2022. According to the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation’s website, the “State-Owned Historic Sites Program encourages the discovery and appreciation of our rich heritage through the stewardship and interpretation of historic sites that evoke an authentic sense of time and place. One way that the state-owned historic sites fulfill this mission is through an active exhibition program. Most of the sites have permanent exhibitions that interpret their unique history, as well as regularly changing displays that focus on specialized subjects.”
Following are snapshots of this month’s Vermontscapes. (Images courtesy of the Division for Historic Preservation.)
Addison. Chimney Point State Historic Site is one of the earliest settled sites in the Champlain Valley and was, for millennia, home to Native Americans. It was also inhabited by French Colonial and early American cultures. During the Revolutionary War, both American and British armies occupied Chimney Point at different times. In 1966, the State of Vermont bought the Chimney Point property to protect it from private development; it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Bennington. The Bennington Battle Monument commemorates the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Bennington (August 16, 1777), which actually took place 10 miles from Bennington in Walloomsac, New York – which has its own state historic site. Construction of the 306-foot-tall stone obelisk, designed by Boston architect J. Phillip Rinn, began in 1887 and concluded two years later. The monument was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Hubbardton. Memorializing the Battle of Hubbardton, fought on the morning of July 7, 1777, is the Hubbardton Battlefield Historic Site. British forces, commanded by Gen. Baron Friedrich Riedesel and comprising about 1,030 soldiers, attacked the American rear guard, commanded by Col. Seth Warner and comprising 730 soldiers who had withdrawn from Fort Ticonderoga, 23 miles away across Lake Champlain. While the outcome was a British tactical victory, it was considered an American strategic victory as Warner’s troops fought their enemy to a standstill. The battle took a large enough toll on the British forces that they did not pursue the main American army. The Division for Historic Preservation has owned and operated the site since 1937.
Orwell. The Mount Independence State Historic Site was the site of fortifications the American army built during the Revolutionary War to defend Lake Champlain and New England from a British invasion from Canada. In 1776, the military complex of three brigades of troops (more than 6,000 men) was one of the largest in North America. Initially called Rattlesnake Hill, the site was renamed Mount Independence after the Declaration of Independence was read to the soldiers assembled there. The area was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Plymouth. The 600-acre President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site combines the birthplace and childhood home of the 30th U.S. President with the environs of the town that shaped his life. Coolidge lived at the homestead until 1887, when he left town to attend school in Massachusetts. In 1956, Coolidge’s son John, at his mother’s suggestion, donated the house and its furnishings to the State of Vermont. The State dedicated the building as a historic shrine the following year.
Strafford. The Justin Smith Morrill Homestead was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and donated to the State of Vermont in 1969. As a U.S. Representative, Morrill sponsored the Land-Grant College Act, which dedicated revenues from the sale of 17 million acres of federal lands to establish public institutions of higher education in every state. Later, as a six-term Senator, Morrill’s expertise in financial affairs helped him shape legislation that created the nation’s first income tax.
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