Rutland’s Poor Farm

Clearing and marking the Poor Farm Cemetery, Rutland VT

Clearing and marking the Poor Farm Cemetery, Rutland VT

“Boy” White died by “suffocation by strangulation.” William McPherson was “found dead at rear of Tyrell’s shop.”

Who were these people? And what’s the rest of their story?

What about Mary Jane Taylor? Continue reading

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Clarendon’s curing waters

Clarendon Springs House Buggies with Visitors c. 1890

Clarendon Springs House Buggies with Visitors c. 1890

Asa Smith, “the strange mystic of Clarendon,” had a vision of “chalybeate water impregnated with lime” that would lead him in 1776 to discover the springs in the western part of town that would cure his “scrofulous humor” (cancer).

Five years later, a business-savvy Mr. George Rounds, saw the potential of the area after another man, a Mr. Shaw, was also cured of cancer by anointing himself with the clay surrounding the springs. He built a simple log cabin and took in as boarders those who traveled in search of a cure and in doing so gained the distinction of opening the first spa in the state of Vermont. Continue reading

William Barstow, Chittenden’s Electric Man

William S. BarstowBarstow Memorial School in Chittenden is, according to many, one of the finest in the state. For a rural town buried in the hills of Green Mountain National Forest, this seems a little surprising. But the fact that this school is just one part of a legacy left by a family of philanthropists, headed by a man of whom it was said, “To know (him) was to admire him; to know him well was to love him,” may help explain why Chittenden is rich in offerings as well as beauty. Continue reading

Miss Ross & the Rutland Reformatory

UVM/photo

UVM/photo

Some Rutlanders today still remember the women who washed laundry. One remembers going with her grandfather to drop it off and pick it up. Someone else remembered their large vegetable garden, another the candied apples they’d hand out at Halloween. Still others recall eating meals served by the women and singing Christmas Carols alongside them.

Believe it or not, these women they remember were inmates; Continue reading

Rutland’s Catholic churches’ foundations of rock

Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo St. Peter Church in Rutland.   04/11/14

Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
St. Peter Church in Rutland. 04/11/14

Today, a Rutlander’s choice of church isn’t determined by their country of origin or native tongue. All churches now reflect the community in which they reside: a homogeneous melting pot of those who call themselves Americans. But not so long ago — the century spanning from approximately 1830 — this was not the case. Continue reading

Rutland’s Historical Society, a priceless resource

Anthony Edwards / photo

Rutland Historical Society Anthony Edwards / photo

POLICE REPORT…

Rutland (1905) — George Chaffee, a successful Rutland business man, has been fined for going 10 mph on Center Street!

Chaffee, who constructed the Playhouse — the Paramount Theater— in 1913, and who built and lived in the exquisite structure we now know as the Chaffee Art Center on South Main Street, was one of the first automobile owners in town. And he was also a speed-demon. Well, well.

Continue reading

Vermont Eugenics, the Rutland connection

Prof. Henry Perkins. (UVM / photo)

Prof. Henry Perkins. (UVM / photo)

“One eugenical scheme to purify the state’s polluted protoplasm was bring in a better class of Vermonters — tourists and summer homeowners.”

What is one of the first things you notice when you cross the border back into Vermont? No billboards, right? What about the other features we take for granted: tourist information booths, great hiking trails, summer homes — many, many summer homes — cabins, cottages and even a few mansions. Yes, our tourist industry is one of the major things that keeps Vermont on the map. We have a brand that, thanks in part to various movie references across the decades, is known even internationally. And we are proud of it.

But what if I told you this tourist industry had racist and socially discriminatory roots? That even the construction of Route 7 and the improvement of other highways starting in the 1930s were to make our state more attractive and accessible to the “right” people”? Continue reading