Monday, November 26, 2018

Remembering Our Loved Ones at Christmas, with the Historic Lower Waterford Congregational Church

The Lower Waterford Community Church with its Memory Tree lit.

Memory Tree Ceremony Start of Historic Birthday
WATERFORD – Members of the Congregational Church invite the public to help kick off the 160th birthday of its historic edifice during the annual Memory Tree Lighting Ceremony Sunday, December 2 at 6 p.m.
            Under the direction of Rev. Ann Hockridge, the annual observance heralds the start of the Christmas season in the historic village of Lower Waterford. This year it also includes an unveiling of planned events to celebrate the iconic building whose image has appeared on countless postcards, greeting cards, paintings, and even in a national TV advertisement.  
            “Faith is a continual act of renewal,” Hockridge noted. “The acts of members to preserve this structure as a community resource for future generations are a constant inspiration.”
Inside the church, at Christmas.
The symbolic tree lights honor the memories of people who made a difference in the lives of those around them. The church will print a commemorative program with their names for sharing with those who attend the ceremony.
Immediately following the observance, guests will socialize in the sanctuary with warm refreshments and music of the season. They will also hear of plans to commemorate the church building’s construction that took place in the second half of 1859 after a disastrous fire leveled the property at the corner of Lower Waterford Road and Maple Street.
Under the direction of then deacon and master joiner Francis Rice Carpenter, church members constructed an edifice in the Greek Revival style with such design elements as square-head openings over doors and windows and capped with pediment tops.
The Lower Waterford church was largely built by repurposing 1818 timbers from an original meetinghouse on Old County Road South near Mad Brook. Deacon Abial Richardson, one of Waterford’s original settlers, oversaw that construction on his property.
His portrait hangs in the church foyer along with other significant Waterford artifacts made by church members. Two of William “Red” Morrison miniatures of the church and of a Victorian house, previously exhibited at the Fairbanks Museum, and Windsor chairs made by Passumpsic farmer Charles D. Harris, father of Dr. Charles E. Harris, author of the only history book on Lower Waterford to date, are on display, along with painted pews from Richardson’s meetinghouse.
The new church was officially consecrated on January 11, 1860. Today, the Lower Waterford congregation is yoked with Third Congregational Church in East Saint Johnsbury. Rev. Hockridge pastors both with services alternating between the two locations.
A long-standing village tradition, the Memory Tree is an opportunity to reminisce about those who made a positive impact. Individuals who want to participate in this ceremony may submit names “In Memory of,” “In honor of,” or privately as “Loved ones.”
The deadline for receiving names for the remembrance program is Friday, Nov. 30. Donations are welcome. Please mail submissions to: Congregational Church, P.O. Box 111, Lower Waterford, VT 05848.
[Photos and text by Helen C. Pike]

Left to right: Carol Bonnett, Dot Willson, and Norma Switzer, at the Lower Waterford Community Church.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

National Register Farm in Waterford: The Barn Story

The Caledonian-Record today (October 27, 2018) printed a column by Peggy Pearl that looks at the construction of this Waterford barn from fresh angles. It's called West View Farm in its National Register listing and our town barn census. Here is Peggy Pearl's commentary:

Monday, October 22, 2018

Voices from an Earlier Time in Waterford, Vermont: Dorothy Morrison, Gordon Fleming

This was once the Fleming home, on their dairy farm.
Dorothy Morrison. Gordon Fleming. If you're a Waterford long-time resident, you may have heard their names; if this is your first time noticing them, welcome to the pleasures of local history, where treasures emerge unexpectedly and there's often someone around to add a good story!

This week, on Wed. October 24, the Waterford Historical Society is excited to share newly rediscovered recordings from Mrs. Morrison and Mr. Fleming, thanks to both Diane Willson and Helen Chantal Pike.

Mrs. Morrison was a long-time postmaster, running the post office on Maple Street. You can read more about her post office here. Her parents were Bertha and Lester Pease, and she was born in Center Strafford, New Hampshire, in 1911. She died at home in 2003.

Mr. Fleming, a farmer and dairyman, owned and operated the Fleming Dairy, from the farm more recently known at the Turek home. He was born in the same year as Mrs. Morrison, 1911, in St. Johnsbury Center, to Matthew and Jessie Fleming; he died in 1989. Read more about the homestead that became the Fleming farm, here.

Although this seems like "recent history," times have changed dramatically since 1911. Listen to these two Waterford residents tell about their lives from recordings, and enjoy the insights of other community members, at the Davies Memorial Library in Lower Waterford on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Accessible entry; some stairs to restroom. Refreshments will be served.

Google Earth aerial photo of Lower Waterford, Vermont. Can you locate the post office - today's, and the one that Dorothy Morrison ran for so many years?

The Slade and Fleming and Turek Home, Waterford, Vermont

The North Star Monthly published in 2016 this article on the home built by Waterford settler Benton Slade, and since the Waterford Historical Society presents this week the recorded voice of dairy farmer Gordon Fleming, who also lived there, it might be nice to look back at the article. Many thanks to the North Star Monthly, which allows this kind of use. (Consider a subscription to see more articles as they are published!)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Waterford's Graves School, 1914–1924, via Albert and Andy Dussault

We appreciate very much these photos sent by Andy Dussault, now of St. Johnsbury. Andy's father Albert Peter Dussault (1909-1985) is one of the students in these photos of the Graves School, during the period 1914-1924 when he attended there.

Who are the other students? It would be terrific to figure this out!

The Graves School is no longer standing:  It was Waterford's District #6 school and stood about where Vermont Highway 18 now crosses Interstate 93 (southbound ramp), and was probably removed during the interstate highway construction.

In 1924, Albert Dussault began to attend St. Gabriel's School in St. Johnsbury. After driving horses and oxen and working in the woods as a youth, Albert discovered his heart's desire, driving trucks, which he continued in various ways until retirement. His autobiography tells of the many jobs and employers he worked with.

But for today -- consider the Graves School, where Lottie Hill taught. She was almost surely of the Hill family that had the nearby lands now part of the Gingue farm. Check back for more details as we put them together. And if you have even a guess at some of the other students, the Waterford Historical Society would really like to hear from you.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Waterford's Northeastern Speedway and Paul Bellefeuille

Waterford history made the front page of the Caledonian-Record, our regional newspaper, on October 12, 2018, as the rebuilt site was adopted onto Vermont's State Registry of Historic Places.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Digging into History, with Waterford's Kids and Coaches

Surveying the barnyard.
Waterford Historical Society Kids’ Presentation 
Wednesday, September 26, 6:30 pm
Community Room, downstairs in the Lower Waterford Congregational Church (next to the library and across from the Rabbit Hill Inn)
Lower Waterford, Vermont

A week-long coached "dig" by kids in the barnyard of a historic barn yielded evidence of the farm's past uses, and lit interest in archaeology for grades 4-8 students in Waterford. See their discoveries and hear about this community collaboration.
Learning about Waterford's past.

This presentation the regularly scheduled Waterford Historical Society meeting, and also part of Vermont Archaeology Month.

How do archaeologists do this part?
Are you curious about what the students found? It was part of the local school's summer adventure camp, and was a big success! Each day the students gathered at "Base Camp" in the community room of the Lower Waterford Congregational Church, did some thinking and brainstorming with coaches like Helen Chantal Pike, Craig Brown, and Donna Heath, then walked the mile down the road to the farm.
Sifting the soil and hay -- what's in there?

Base Camp!

[Photos courtesy of Donna Heath and Helen Pike -- thank you!]