The year 2003 was marked by the successful completion of a number of projects for the mutual benefit of our community and our members:
The 2004 Swanton Historical Society Community Calendar, Limited Edition featuring the “Trains of Swanton”. Copies are still available at the Library and at the R.R. Depot Museum for $8.00
We continued our partnership with the Vermont Historical Society and their sponsorship of the Community History Project involving 5th and 6th grade students at the Swanton Central School. Nine other historical societies and schools in Vermont also participated. The Swanton students chose to do research on the historic Barney Marble Works and quarry. To learn more about the project and to see pictures of our students, go to the VHS website at www.vermonthistory.org . Click on Community History Project. Go to “Swanton” on the list of projects.
We plan to continue our support this year for a Junior Historical Society at the Central School under the heading of Project Preserve. Students in grades 2-6 will enjoy field trips and historical exercises under the direction of teachers Mary Wood and Mary Jane Guerrina assisted by Historical Society volunteers. The same website will be utilized. The students have already visited Church St. Cemetery and the R.R. Depot.
We plan to refocus the resources we make available to our members and to the public by concentrating on two separate locations for the care and display of our collections. With a grant from the VMGA Vermont Collections Care Program and the generosity of the VHS Community History Project, we have been able to create a design and plan for the Swanton Historical Society Archives, Collections & Research Facility. Our space in the lower level at the Swanton Public Library is well suited to research and preservation of ephemera and sensitive objects which need protection from heat, sunlight and humidity. This space will continue to offer our Swanton Courier collection for observation and research, including Microfiche access. We will continue to make our research facilities and historic displays at the Library available to the public by appointment.
The Swanton Historical Society R.R. Depot Museum will continue to feature programs and displays. This past year we erected a sign which makes the site more visible and identifiable. We hope to be able to obtain Vermont Historic Site markers as well. We have installed a security system to protect against trespass and vandalism. Once a month, on a Saturday morning we will continue to offer coffee, donuts and conversation to a group of our friends from the CV Veterans’ Association. We also hope to continue our association with the Vermont Partners and the Vermont DET Youth Employment Program to help us keep the Museum open on a daily basis through the summer months.
This will be our fourth year of participation in Vermont History Expo sponsored by the Vermont Historical Society at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds in June. June 21-22, 2003 found us at Tunbridge with our exhibit “Swanton on the Move”, featuring the story of the moving and restoration of our Circa 1875 West Depot. The exhibit was well attended by historians from all over who took time to stop by and congratulate us on our exhibit and project. This year, on June 26-27 we plan to present the theme Six Flags Over Swanton in partnership with the Abenaki Tribal Museum and Dr. Frederick Wiseman. We will tell the story of the separate periods of Native, Religious, Foreign and political governance from the early Abenaki to the present moment. We will display the six flags which have flown over Swanton during these periods as well as other artifacts and exhibits.
The construction and maintenance of our new website presents different challenges and opportunities for historians who are more accustomed to working with conventional tools, such as books, manuscripts and photographs. Our new website, hosted and administered by Advantage Creations. It offers information about history, programs, newsletters, membership, photographs, geneology, products for sale, current projects, contributions, walking tours and will offer free email service to our members. We offer a bulletin board where members can post information and to offer electronic forums to the public, all through the miracle of the internet!
Historic Preservation Projects:
Having successfully restored the Church Street Cemetery in 2002 through grants from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, we have decided to restore portions of the Green’s Corner Cemetery and the Woods Hill Cemetery, both of which have suffered the ravages of time and neglect. This summer our historical society will be working with VYCC, VOCA and the Town of Swanton to give some much-needed attention to these historic and sacred sites.
The Historic Robin Hood/Remington Ammunition Co. gatehouse on Fourth Street will be entering its final phase of restoration this Spring. Landscaping, a new floor, painting and construction of exhibits need be completed before the site can become a small museum depicting the ammunition industry in Swanton during World War I. It’s location near the Swanton Rail Trail will be linked in the future by a historic bridge over the Missisquoi providing pedestrian and bicycle access between this museum and the R.R. Depot & Transportation Museum on South River Street. We are working with the Town of Swanton to make this a reality.
The Historic West Milton 1903 Pennsylvania Truss Iron Bridge will have a new home in Swanton providing the link referred to previously on the Rail Trail. This unique bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only two in Vermont to have survived the 1927 Flood. Thanks to the Vermont Agency of Transportation VTRANS the bridge has been donated to Swanton for placement on the abutments where the former Railroad Covered Bridge stood until its destruction in 1987. VTRANS has agreed to restore and reassemble the bridge in Swanton at no cost to us. It will become a welcome addition to our R.R. Depot Transportation Museum.
VTRANS is also considering donating the Historic Circa 1938 Tollkeeper’s House from the Missisquoi Bay Bridge to our R.R. Depot Transportation Museum site. They will move the building and restore its exterior at no expense to Swanton. It will become a visitor center which will display photographs and artifacts regarding the Missisquoi Bay Bridge as well as the West Milton iron bridge. It’s location on the riverbank will also provide ready access and information to those canoing and kayaking on the Missisquoi as well as pedestrians and bicyclists using the bridge.
Heritage Walking Tour: A historical tour of Swanton, Vermont.