By now, if you follow my blogs (and you had better be) you should know that I cannot get enough of Plymouth Notch, Vermont, the home of our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge, and considered one of the best preserved Presidential sites in the country. (see KIDNAPPED BY BLUE BELL 5 May 2013 and BORN ON THE 4th OF JULY 1872.
The article in the paper headlined, “Coolidge Site Celebrates Archaeology Month in September.” I saw the postings on Facebook on the Vermont Historical Sites page, and I had the rack card titled, “Discovery Archaeology and History Across Vermont 2013.” Well, I had to go, even though I had only gotten back from 3 days touring in Vermont 13 hours before (travel story to come soonest – a long one, sorry). BLACK BEAUTY and I left at 8:30 this morning to be in Plymouth Notch in plenty of time for the 10AM start of the three hour lecture and tour. Remember, an hour away for me, but a century back in time even though the site replicates the time period of 1924 – but Vermont hill towns in the 1920s were still in the late 19th century. Oh, pinch me, I love it there!
Archaeologist Sheila Charles presented the illustrated talk and then toured us through
the site along with site administrator William Jenney (who has been serving there over 25 years). Currently with the NH Department of Transportation Bureau of Environment, Sheila has been involved in archaeological research for over 40 years including serving as Chief Archaeologist at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth (another must visit – sorry, my day there was before my blog posting days). I have pages of notes of her talk, but I was frustrated that she shifted to talking about her work with the Chase House at Strawbery Banke and its privy. But in going over my notes I realize why she had to do this, because as she stated, “all the structures in Plymouth Notch are extant, thus there is no need for archeological studies.” Makes sense, thus her talk on the techniques and methodology on privies provided a great deal of information. Now, you may not know that my great-grandfather, Franz Boas, is considered the “father of modern anthropology” (there is no money in anthropology or old books, by the way), but I have had more of an interest in archaeology than anthropology – thus, today was fun. Hey, in my “notes to self,” I have – “oxymoron – multi-hole privy.” I better say, “copyright Ray Boas!”
After her prepared talk we headed outside to see the cellar hole site of the Moor-Blanchard farmstead, and a sugar house. Bill Jenney provided some fascinating insights to the area as we walked. When he arrived as administrator there were still folks living who knew President Coolidge. At both the homestead site (which burned in 1965) and at the sugar house site, Sheila discussed how she would approach an archaeological study while Bill was providing historical details.
Did I tell you I love it here? Vrest Orton, founder of the Vermont Country Store, was instrumental with the state acquiring the site in 1956 (in 1948, however, the state did purchase the dilapidated Wilder House). In 1964 the President’s family along with the State of Vermont acquired most of the buildings and land in Plymouth Notch. It was only
in 1970 that the site was accepted on the National Register of Historic Places, and on July 4, 1972, the reception center and museum was dedicated. Take a look at some of the views from the sugar house and try to image the fall colors, I hope I am here when they peak this year. And, remember I believe in “voting with my dollars,” and I plan to join the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.
On the way home when passing through Ludlow I saw a sign indicating the Black River Academy Museum was open. Never having been through Ludlow at the right time, a quick U-turn, and there I was. Calvin Coolidge graduated from here, and the building is essentially untouched and original. I am so glad that I stopped and toured through.
RAY RECOMMENDS – Visit the Calvin Coolidge Historic Site any time of year. Pack a picnic lunch, or enjoy something at The Wilder House. Just go !!!!
And, you know I had to give you another “rocking chair study!”