Six of Vermont’s State-owned Historic Sites reopened for the 2011 season yesterday, Saturday, May 28. “These beautifully preserved gems allow us to see history where it happened,” says John Dumville, Historic Sites Operations Chief at the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. “They tell us the exciting story of Vermont and our nation–from the first inhabitants to the Vermonter who became our 30th president.” A full schedule of special exhibits and events are planned for the public’s enjoyment.
Vermont played an important role in the American Revolution. Mount Independence in Orwell is one of the nation’s best-preserved Revolutionary War sites, and celebrates the 235th anniversary of the start of construction. The annual Soldiers Atop the Mount weekend is July 23-24. The Hubbardton Battlefield is hallowed ground, the location of the July 7, 1777, battle where Green Mountain Boys fought the English to enable the main American forces withdrawing from Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga to head southward in safety. Hundreds of reenactors will gather on July 9-10 for the popular battle weekend to commemorate the 234st anniversary of the battle.
On August 16, 1777, Americans successfully fought British troops trying to capture desperately needed supplies in Bennington. These battles led to victory that October at Saratoga and to American independence. The 306-foot Bennington Battle Monument, the state’s tallest structure, was completed in 1891 and offers glorious views from the top. The big event commemorating the battle will take place on August 13-14.
Vermont’s Constitution, signed on July 8, 1777, at a Windsor tavern (the Old Constitution House), was the first in the nation to prohibit slavery, authorize a public school system, and establish universal manhood suffrage. On July 10 a symbolic Revolutionary relay from Hubbardton to Windsor will convey the news to the constitutional convention about the fall of Mount Independence and the battle at Hubbardton.
Millions of Americans owe their higher education to Strafford’s Justin Smith Morrill, whose acts in the U.S. House and Senate established the Land Grant Colleges. The outstanding 1840s Gothic Revival style Morrill Homestead and gardens he designed look much as he left it.
America’s best-preserved presidential site is the rural village of Plymouth Notch. Calvin Coolidge, born here in 1872, also became president here in a dramatic early morning inauguration on August 3, 1923, after President Harding’s death. An exciting new exhibit on Coolidge and his accomplishments will open in August.
The Bennington Battle Monument opened for the season on April 16. The Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison is closed for a second year due to the Lake Champlain Bridge construction, but will be open for the bridge opening celebration weekend sometime this fall. The popular annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship weekend, Sept. 17-18, will be moved again this year to Mount Independence in Orwell.
Opening on July 2 are the 1783 Hyde Log Cabin in Grand Isle, one of America’s oldest log cabins and the President Chester A. Arthur Historic Site in Fairfield. Born in 1829, Arthur became president upon the fatal shooting of James Garfield and was a champion of civil rights and civil service reform.
For more information, visit www.HistoricVermont.org/sites.