Strafford Historical Society
P.O. Box 100, Strafford, VT 05072
The Strafford Historical Society will be open to the public Wednesday & Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. to Noon, May 4th to October 12th. Or call, Stefanie Johnston, Curator, for questions or appointments
The Brick Store in Strafford’s Upper Village has been the home of the Strafford Historical Society since January 5, 2003, thanks to the generosity of Kendall Mix and family. On that date, the society, homeless for almost 50 years, moved its collections from storage space in Gwenda Smith’s house on the Common, into the Brick Store Meeting Room, located behind the Post Office area. Half of that room housed our archives of photographs, documents, and artifacts from Strafford’s past. The other half, separated off by display panels, was used for meetings, research, and exhibit space for the twenty-seven different exhibits mounted there over those ten years. As our collections grew, the room became increasingly inadequate, a problem solved last fall by the kindness, once more, of the Mix family. Phoebe Mix, her son Michael, and friend Sandy Preston moved all the African Art from “Africa Place,” allowing SHS to use the three-room wing for our Strafford History Center.
The history of the Brick Store wing began in 1805, when it was the Harris’ Store, a wood-framed building owned by John Harris of Plainfield and run by his sons, Jedediah Hyde Harris and Thomas Jefferson Harris. In 1834, that building became a horse and buggy shed when Jedediah built on a larger brick section to enlarge the store. Later, the wing was enclosed for storage, and subsequently remodeled in 2002, by Kendall Mix, for offices, and then for retail space called “Africa Place.” The Historical Society is fortunate to find itself in an historic structure, whose old, dark beams remain as reminders of the original Harris Store of 1805.
What is a picture on a commercial calendar worth?
It just might be priceless! Twenty-five years ago, a highly regarded ophthalmologist in Duluth, Minnesota, couldn’t stop looking at a photo of the Strafford Town House on a calendar in his office. He loved it! After six months of staring at the picture, he decided to call the town office of Strafford, Vermont, identified as its location. Town Clerk Roberta Robinson answered the long-distance call from Dr. Daniel L. Maryland in Duluth. He asked to talk to the director at the Town House. She was amused, telling him that this town is too small to staff every town building, but that she could send him a book by Gwenda Smith, which would give him all the information he could ever want. He had the book sent, and after looking through it, he thought, “this would be fun to build!”
Dr. Maryland never laid his eyes on the Town House. His daughter, however, lives in Exeter, New Hampshire, so he asked her to visit Strafford and take photos inside and out of every facet of the building. “Little by little,” he built a 25”X38”X51”-high replica of the Town House, including furnishings of benches, gallery pews, stairs to the tower, bell, and the stovepipes! It took him only a few months. “As an eye surgeon, it was right up my alley,” he said.
A focal point of his ophthalmology office for decades, the large Town House model needed to be moved when Dr. Maryland retired this March. He called the Strafford Town Office again, where Regina Josler was amazed to hear that he wanted to donate his masterpiece to our town. Discussions with UPS resulted in expert packing and shipping which allowed the Town House replica to arrive in perfect condition in a matter of days. Understandably, Dr. Maryland wanted it insured – initially for $20,000 – reluctantly agreeing to $10,000, so our shipping costs would be more affordable. It will be set up in the Historical Society and on view starting May 9 during open hours Wednesdays and Saturdays 10:00 to 12:00 noon.
As priceless as this model is to us, Dr. Maryland can’t wait to visit Strafford - and finally see the real Town House!
2019 Season Events
Sunday, May 5 – Open House (2:00) and Cellar Hole Tour (3:00) with Paul Kristensen
Saturday, June 1 – Gathering for Hazel Lewis and her 30 Scrapbooks, SHS 10:00 – 12:00
Sunday, June 30 – John Freitag’s Architectural Tour of the Upper Village 1:00 PM
Sunday, August 11 – SHS Annual Mtg., Town House 2:00, Scott Moore, "Digging Up History" - Amazing Finds Using a Metal Detector.
Saturday, Sept. 14 – Genealogy Workshop with Bob Johnston, SHS Rooms, 2:00 – 4:00
Saturday, October 12 – Last day of SHS Open Hours in the 2019 season 10:00-12:00
Sunday, November 3 – Jon Gilbert Fox talk on Photography, Morrill Educ. Center. 2:00,
with Jon Gilbert Fox’s “Town House in Winter” Print Raffle & Calendar Launch
Saturday, December 7 – Holiday Sale (10:00-3:00) & Santa (11:00-1:00) in SHS Rooms
Items for sale at the
Early History of Strafford $25
South Strafford - A Village History $25
Mine and Men: The Story of Copper in Strafford, VT $20
Strafford, An album of Early Photographs $25
Mine and Men, Photo Slideshow DVD $10
The Town House $10
Strafford Organizations Histories $5
A short History of Strafford $3
A Little Girl's Diary $12
Gift Pack of Diary & Video $20
Strafford General Stores DVD $10
Cold Harvest DVD $18
Old Photo Post Cards (New Set) $5
Riches and Remains, Copper Mine Video $28
The Historical Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Alan Donohue to the position of Historian. Alan, a former SHS president, is an attorney familiar with researching town records and deeds, who has completed his own family genealogy, and worked extensively on Strafford cemetery records. Requests for information or genealogical and property research should be directed to Alan at (802)765-4548, or email@example.com
Some fees apply for deed research, photocopying, and postage costs.