News Releases

May 20, 2009

Governor Douglas Announces Historic Sites Opening

Quadricentennial Events Highlight 2009 Season

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching, and with it the opening day for most of the state’s Historic Sites as the tourism season officially kicks off.

“Memorial Day Weekend offers visitors and Vermonters a great opportunity to explore the state’s art, culture, and history,” said Governor Jim Douglas. “In addition to our historic sites opening, it also features the Vermont Craft Council’s Open Studio Weekend and the start of Cultural Heritage Days.”

Most of the state-owned historic sites – President Calvin Coolidge, Mount Independence, Justin Morrill Homestead, Hubbardton Battlefield, Eureka Schoolhouse, Old Constitution House, and Chimney Point State Historic Sites – open for the 2008 season on Saturday, May 23.

The Bennington Battle Monument opened for the season on April 18, and the Chester Arthur Birthplace and the Hyde Log Cabin will open on July 4.

“All of the sites will be open this season,” said John Dumville, historic sites operations chief at the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. “They are a wonderful and economical way for families to get outdoors and learn about Vermont’s history together.”

As part of Open Studio Weekend, Vermont artisans will temporarily relocate their studios to the Coolidge State Historic Site, where visitor can watch basket making with Irene Ames and traditional ornamental techniques like wall stenciling, theorem painting, and bronze powder with members of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration.

Dumville said numerous special exhibits and events are scheduled throughout the season, including many related to the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial, a year-long celebration of the lake and the region commemorating Samuel de Champlain’s exploration 400 years ago.

For example, on June 14, re-enactor and historian James Ross talks at the Mount Independence Historic Site about the French and Indian War “Battle of Snowshoes,” a battle involving Robert Rogers’ Rangers, the forerunners of today’s elite Army Ranger units.

Chimney Point in Addison will host Second Saturdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month from June 13 through October 10, when visitors can explore the French colonial past with hands-on activities for all ages, including dressing up in period costumes to play games, and learning about archaeology and history.

"As we prepare to celebrate the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial this summer, I hope that Vermont families will take time together to learn about the incredible history of Vermont's more cherished natural resource," the Governor continued. "It's a fun and affordable way to enjoy the summer."

Other events this summer include the June 6 “Climb of Your Life” at the Bennington Battle Monument, a fundraising “race” up the 34 flights of stairs at the state’s tallest building to raise money for the American Lung Association.

For more information about hours of operation or for a calendar of events, visit www.HistoricVermont.org/sites

For more information on the Quadricentennial visit www.celebratechamplain.org

Historic Sites Descriptions

Chimney Point, Addison

Exhibits in Addison’s 1780 Chimney Point Tavern on Lake Champlain recount the history through artifacts of the Native Americans. The popular annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship weekend will be held on September 18 to 20, a Top Ten Vermont Fall Event and part of the Festival of Nations, with Crown Point, New York, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s navigation of Lake Champlain.

Mount Independence, Orwell

Mount Independence in Orwell is one of the nation’s best-preserved Revolutionary War sites and features the Baldwin Trail, which meets outdoor standards for handicapped accessibility. The annual Soldiers Atop the Mount re-enactment weekend is July 25 and 26.

Hubbardton Battlefield, Hubbardton

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 re-enactors will gather on July 11 and 12 for the popular battle weekend to commemorate the 232nd anniversary of the only Revolutionary War battle fought in Vermont.

Bennington Battle Monument, Bennington

On August 16, 1777, Americans successfully fought British troops trying to capture desperately needed supplies in Bennington. These battles ultimately led to victory that October at Saratoga and to American independence. The 306-foot monument, located at the site of the military storehouse, has an elevator to access its observation deck.

Old Constitution House, Windsor

Vermont’s Constitution, signed on July 8, 1777, at a Windsor tavern now called the Old Constitution House, was the first in the nation to prohibit slavery, authorize a public school system, and establish universal male suffrage. On July 12 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.

Justin Smith Morrill Homestead, Strafford

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 them.

President Chester A. Arthur Site, Chester

The first of two U.S. presidents who were native Vermonters, Fairfield’s Chester Alan Arthur became president upon the fatal shooting of James Garfield in 1881 and was a champion of civil rights and civil service reform. The Arthur site commemorates his life and career.

President Calvin Coolidge Site, Plymouth Notch

Calvin Coolidge, born here on the Fourth of July, 1872, also became president here in a dramatic early morning inauguration on August 3, 1923, after President Warren Harding’s death. The special exhibit this year is “Grace Goodhue Coolidge: A Lake Champlain Childhood,” and while there are numerous events throughout the year the Fourth of July Celebration is a popular favorite.

Hyde Log Cabin, Grand Isle

The 1783 Hyde Log Cabin in Grand Isle is one of America’s oldest log cabins and is furnished with items collected by members of the Grand Isle Historical Society.

Eureka Schoolhouse, Springfield

Vermont’s oldest school, the structure was built in 1790 from planks scored to resemble stone blocks and is one of the few remaining 18th century public buildings in Vermont. Furnished with early educational material, this site is operated in cooperation with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

Underwater Historic Preserves

Five shipwrecks, located in Vermont’s waters of Lake Champlain, are marked and open for scuba divers. Coast Guard-approved yellow buoys identify the Preserves. More at: www.historicvermont.org/sites/html/underwater.html

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: May 20, 2009 16:04:28