December 2010

Our daily lives are drifting quietly into the past, where they pile up like the deepening snows of winter. In the life stage that is euphemistically called ‘mature’ you can reconstruct a surprising the number of lost worlds from your own past, if you take the time. What was it like to live in 1940 or 1960 or, for a little while today, 1980?

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Henry Sheldon and friends make the first trip over the Battell Bridge in November 1893, a month before work on the bridge was finished.

Battell Bridge

October 2010

On a crisp November day in 1893, 117 years ago this fall, Middlebury businessman Henry Sheldon decided that the rubble-strewn road surface of the new stone bridge under construction downtown might just be passable in his horse and carriage. He excitedly organized “a rather impromptu celebration,” filling the carriage with local dignitaries. Grab your top hats, gentlemen! It was finally time to make the first crossing.

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Dudley House

The Oldest House in Middlebury

April 2010

It would be easy to miss the small, white house squeezed in between the National Bank’s drive-through branch and the Middlebury fire station on Seymour Street. You can tell from […]

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Emma Seymour and Joseph Battell

Emma Hart Seymour and Philip Battell: A Middlebury Love Story

February 2010

Emma Hart Seymour was the beautiful daughter of Middlebury’s most prominent citizen, Horatio Seymour, former Senator for Vermont. Philip Battell was a Middlebury College student, the second son of a wealthy merchant family of Norfolk, Connecticut. She was only sixteen when their paths first crossed, but she decided on the spot that he was the one. He seemed taken with her, too, and soon there were clandestine meetings, filled with innocent professions of true love.

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Bernice Douglas Reed

A 19th Century Christmas Was Quite Different Than Now

December 2009

The faded typescript in the Sheldon archive begins with a little poem: “Listen my children and you shall hear/Some wonderful tales of a bygone year./Bygone so long, it is hard to tell–/Truth from fiction are mixed so well.” So begins the memoir of Bernice Douglas Reed, whose recollections of her girlhood bring back the lost world of children in Shoreham at the end of the 19th Century.

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Solomon Jewett: The Shepherd of Spirits

October 2009

The ancient Celts believed that All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, was a time when the veil separating the living and the dead was lifted. On that night, those attuned to the spirit world might speak to the dead and the spirits of the dead threatened to come back and wreak havoc on the living. The holiday has degenerated from these eerie beliefs through the age of outhouse tipping to our own firm focus on ‘fun’ size Milky Ways. But what if the dead are all around us right now, clamoring for our attention? Would we notice them?

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Henry Sheldon standing on the porch of his museum. From the Collection of the Henry Sheldon Museum

Salisbury Man Founded Sheldon Museum 125 Years Ago

September 2009

On a July Monday in 1884, Middlebury businessman Henry Sheldon opened the door to his ‘museum’ in the big brick house on Park Street for the first time. Nine people passed the great marble pillars, tromped up the central staircase to the third floor and signed the fresh new visitors’ book. The Sheldon Museum had found its home.

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1909: The Champlain Tercentenary

June 2009

It would take a very unplugged person not to have heard that 2009 is the Quadricentennial of Samuel de Champlain’s visit to his self-named lake. Commemorative events and exhibits crowd our summer calendar, providing us with numerous opportunities to learn more about our region’s French and Native American heritage. North Americans do not have many opportunities to look back 400 years.

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Congregational Church steeple, 1978

Church Steeple Boasts 200 Years of History

May 2009

One of the great privileges of driving through downtown Middlebury is the chance for a quick glimpse of the perfect wedding cake steeple of the Congregational Church. In addition to […]

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Rare double silhouette of Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant, on pink-edged paper, ramed with locks of their hair, c. 1820

Sylvia and Charity: a Vermont Love Story for the Ages

April 2009

Tuesday- 3 [July]—31 years since I left my mother’s house and commenced serving in company with Dear Miss B. Sin mars all earthly bliss, and no common sinner have I been, but God has spared my life, given me every thing I would enjoy and now I have a space, if I improve it, to exercise true penitence.
—Sylvia Drake’s Diary, 1838

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