February: Route 7 Then and Now — Ted Bird
This presentation traces the development and changes along old Route 7 in southern Vermont, also known as the Ethan Allen Highway. Ted, a local historian, photographer and collector of old post cards, compares images from the past with what is there now, noting that there were a lot of individual guest cabins that predate the current motels, as well as many gas stations and small restaurants.
March: Faces of Bennington — Jamie Franklin
From 1972 to 1978 John Hubbard, a reporter for the Bennington Banner, took over 2000 photographs of Bennington residents. The collection of photographs was donated to the Bennington Museum. Most of the photographs were not identified so the Bennington Historical Society invited the community to a meeting at the museum to help connect names with faces. Jamie Franklin, museum curator, selected 28 of the photographs for a special exhibit at the museum.
April: Major Valentine and Swedish Immigration — Paul Searls
Paul Searls’, professor of history and music at Lyndon State College, presentation discussed the plan Alonzo B. Valentine proposed to bring Swedes to Vermont in 1890. This controversial program was considered a failure but it did succeed in attracting attention to Vermont and was a boom to summer tourism. Valentine was a wealthy and politically influential mill owner in Bennington. Valentine street was named after him.
May: The Big Mill — John Goodrich
Jon Goodrich, the current owner of the “Big Mill” in Bennington, Vermont, gave a fascinating presentation on the history of the mill. The mill, which today is over 200,000 square feet, was built in 1863-1865. The mill was started to make wool shawls which went out of fashion a few years into the mills long history of boom and bust.
August: Early Vermont Flags — Phyllis Chapman
The Bennington Historical Society’s August 2014 meeting featured local historian Phyllis Chapman. Her presentation was on the early flags of Vermont including the “Bennington Battle Flag”. Robert Ebert, the president of the Bennington Historical Society, gave a reading about the late-in-life marriage of Benning Wentworth, the New Hampshire governor for whom the town is named. The meeting at the Bennington Museum was part of the Bennington Battle Day weekend celebration.
August : The Battle of Bennington – Don Miller
The Bennington Historical Society’s Meeting for the month of August focused on the Battle of Bennington which was a very important battle during the Revolutionary War. Some even consider it the turning point in the war. Don Miller’s presentation had some interesting perspectives on the battle that war fought in neighboring New York.
September: Bennington Postcards — Callie Stewart
Callie Stewart, curator of collections at the Bennington Museum, presented a program on the new book the museum just completed on old postcards of Bennington. Some of the Bennington Historical Society’s members helped with the research and provided some of the postcards that were used in the book. The museum has a collection of over 800 post cards in its archives.