CURRENT RESEARCH SITE LIST
(continuously updated from community input, write BrattleboroWords@gmail.com)
THE GRANITE BLOCK / TOWNSHEND HISTORIC MARKER
In the 1840s, Clarina Howard Nichols, fighter for women’s rights, temperance, and an ardent abolitionist, articulated these views in her newspaper, the Windham County Reformer which was housed on the second floor of the Granite Block (where Amy’s Bakery is housed today.) The building also housed the Semi Weekly Eagle which supported slavery and used racist commentary
THE CROSBY BUILDING
George Crowell worked for a year at a newspaper in Brattleboro as a writer, before jumping ship and starting his own magazine for women, The Household in 1868 ( forerunner to Good Housekeeping magazine). Esther and Frank Housh, mother and son, editor and publisher respectively of Women’s Magazine, accepted Crowell’s invitation to move to Brattleboro, and initially were housed in Crowell’s offices. O. A. Libby, was also in The Crosby Building, where he published what appears to be Brattleboro’s first art magazine, Our Venture, in the late 1870s.
THE HOOKER DUNHAM BUILDING
The first US edition of Rumi was published here.
MUNICIPAL BUILDING / 30 CHASE STREET
Mary Wilkins Freeman, famed novelist and short story writer, was the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Medal for Distinction in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She attended the high school on Main Street, which was a wooden structure that was located where the municipal building now stands, and was perhaps one of the first women to lift herself out of poverty through her writing.
118 ELLIOT AND BRATTLEBORO FIRE STATION
Site of the famous ‘Healing Waters of Brattleboro’ water cures where Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as well as presidents and financiers came to ‘take the cure’ at The Wesselhoeft and Lawrence hydrotherapy establishments of the mid 1800s.
According to his journal, Thoreau walked a path that ran along the Whetstone Brook (could use bridge over brook near current day coop) down to the Connecticut river each morning during his visits here around 1856. The name of the mountain comes to us from the Abenaki recognition of the West River, to which it is adjacent. The mountain changed names several times, finally settling back near its original form.
19 ELLIOT STREET
- P. James, published fiction that he claimed Dickens ghost was dictating to him. He was also one of the first co-editors of The Windham County Reformer, along with Charles Davenport, in 1876. Their office was in the market block, which now houses Taylor Florists and The Blueberry Haus Ice Cream Parlor.
NAULAKHA — KIPLING ROAD / BROOKS HOUSE / PUTNEY RD. RADIO SHACK
Famed novelist Rudyard Kipling built his home “Naulakha” on what is now called Kipling Road. Here, he wrote Captain’s Courageous, The Jungle Book, and The Just So Stories, and entertained Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes series). He also frequented the Brooks House. Kipling received so much fan mail, he had his own post office at the site of the Rado Shack on Putney Road.
RETREAT MEADOWS / VERNON FIELDS / HOUSE IN ALGIERS VILLAGE / FORT HILL / FORT DUMMER/WEST RIVER PETROGLYPHS//PUTNEY GREAT MEADOW
Abenaki / Sokoki sites, Before the arrival of European settlers, with their adherence/insistence on written documents, the indigenous people had their own means of communication and codification of relationship. With cross-cultural contact, the varying approaches began to intersect and inform each other, resulting in a new set of understandings/misunderstandings, and a dominant, deliberately skewed narrative, still extant today but which is being re-examined closely by scholars.
ESTEY ORGAN FACTORY
Estey published method books with sheet music to accompany organs sold worldwide and publicized Brattleboro far and wide through extensive, highly stylized advertising. Local author Dennis Waring wrote ‘Manufacturing the Muse: Estey Organs and Consumer Culture in Victorian America.’
TASHA TUDOR, Marlboro Home, Gardens tbd
Revered worldwide, especially in Japan and Korea, Tasha Tudor wrote and illustrated books for children and lived a fully emancipated life on her own terms.
ROYALL TYLER (Historic Marker in Guilford/Commons House)
Considered America’s first playwright, and also Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court in the late 1700s. A profligate womanizer, his 1787 comedy “The Contrast” was performed in New York City, the first American comedy to be performed by professional actors. He wrote a satirical column which appeared in The Farmer’s Weekly Museum, published The Algerine Captive in 1797 and wrote several legal tracts, six plays, a musical drama, two long poems, many essays, and a semifictional travel narrative in 1809 “ The Yankey in London.”
BRATTLEBORO POST OFFICE / FEDERAL COURT, 2ND FLOOR (now vacant)
Federal Judge James L. Oakes pioneered environmental jurisprudence.
TEDDY ROOSEVELT / CHERRY HUNTING CAMP (Wardsboro)
American President Teddy Roosevelt often visited his friend’s hunting camp.
JAMAICA FARM OF HELEN AND SCOTT NEARING
JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH SITE TBD (Townshend, Marlboro College archives)
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, public official, and diplomat, and a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism. His four dozen books included several novels, but economic topics were bestsellers from the 1950s through the 2000s, including and a trilogy on economics, “American Capitalism” (1952), “The Affluent Society” (1958), and “The New Industrial State” (1967) and published more than a thousand articles and essays on various subjects. Among his works was
Famed science fiction writer HP Lovecraft visited his friend on Goodenough Rd and used the setting for at least one story. Round Mountain may figure in Abenaki mythology and is located along an ancient footpath, which in the 1740’s became the first road in what is now the State of Vermont.
BRATTLEBORO RETREAT/RETREAT FARM
Anna Marsh, founder of the Retreat, pioneered mental health treatment in the US. Patients published their own newspaper. First known settler in Brattleboro outside the walls of Ft. Dummer built a cabin here (1758), shortly thereafter attacked by indigenous warriors, with the two men killed, and wife and children taken captive to Canada.
GROUT HOUSE (corner Bonnyvale and Rt. 9 West Brattleboro)
Reverend Grout wrote about Africa and translated Zulu and other African languages. Also wrote early history of Brattleboro and served as a missionary in Africa.
ABIJAH PRINCE ROAD (Lucy Terry Prince)
Lucy Terry Prince was a poetess and freed slave who, along with her husband, Abijah Prince, fought and secured her right to own land free of harassment by neighbors.
FAIRGROUND ROAD / BUHS
The high school is sited on the grounds where many of the soldiers from Vermont who fought in the Civil War, were mustered into the army, and a monument marks this location. While here, soldiers wrote letters home. Some of these have been collected, and published online.
SAUL BELLOW GRAVE
Morningside Cemetery in Brattleboro has a special Jewish section where the Nobel Prize winning author is buried.
PACKERS CORNER COMMUNES
Local writer Peter Gould and poet Verandah Porch are local sources for remembrances about his pivotal back to the land community.
ISLAND PARK / New England Center for Circus Arts
Brattleboro has long been known as a ‘circus town’ and the art of advertising and stories surrounding the circuses that came and grew here abound.
Groundbreaking films written on gay culture.
BOOK PRESS (Putney Road)
Site of first Harry Potter US edition printing.
A recent book “Greek Epic: the Latchis Family & the Theater Empire They Built” by Gordon Hayward chronicles the history of this important institution.
Founding, writings and authors, such as Robert Frost, associated with this college. Houses Galbraith archives.
Harmony Hall, famed spiritualists center. HIldreth Printing Co– renowned fine printer
SIT: School of International Training / Experiment in International Living
Publications and tales of international intrigue abound.
COMMON GROUND RESTAURANT/EVERYONE’S BOOKS (Elliot Street)
Hotbed of arts/literature – poetry readings, politics in 70’s, 80’s, birthplace of Write Action
FOWLER PRINT SHOP -(Above Burrows, Main Street)
A sometimes-accessible treasure trove of printing paraphernalia from late 19th-mid 20th centuries.
JODY WILLIAMS’ HOME: Attended Green Street School, Lived on Rt. 5 in Putney just beyond Landmark College. Attended SIT. Nobel Peace Prize winner for landmines work, activist and author.
BRIGHAM YOUNG BIRTHPLACE (Whitingham)
JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES HOUSE (Putney)
1830s/40s in Putney, Utopian socialist founded the Oneida Community
MERCURY DRIVE (soon to be restored as FESSENDEN RD)? Indian Flat address of Stephen Greene Press
HOME OF ROBERT PENN WARREN, Wardsboro
Roseanna Warren, poet and daughter of R P Warren, still spends time at the house.
RIVER GARDEN: Possible site of Dr. Hall’s store and Smead’s Print Shop upstairs may have been the first bookstore in Brattleboro.
RICHARDSON BUILDING AND AMERICAN BLOCK, Brattleboro
Willliam Fessenden’s Brattleborough Bookstore, a two-story building, also the site of a first citizens library. (Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833, created the first authentic tax supported public library in the United States.)
WINDHAM COLLEGE (now Landmark College)
John Irving taught there for years and Pearl S. Buck was a trustee (both lived in VT)
Irving lived in Putney for five years an wrote two books here.
- LAURA PLANTZ HOUSE, PUTNEY
Vermont’s First Female Medical Practitioner, Dr. Laura Plantz (1829-1923),graduated from Pennsylvania Medical University of Philadelphia. She specialized in women’s diseases and was superintendent of the Home of the Friendless in New York. In 1950, Norman Mailer briefly lived here while completing his second novel, Barbary Shore.
CHARLES MORROW WILSON, Putney
Charles Morrow Wilson was a nationally known freelance author. While the majority of his many books and magazine articles were on international trade, agriculture, and medicine topics, a significant number were on Arkansas culture and politics. He lived in Putney from 1933 on.
William Czar Bradley (1782-1867) (jurist/poet) Westminster, Vt and grandson, William Czar Bradley II (librarian, poet, scholar)
WCB I was an American lawyer and politician. He served as U.S. Representative from Vermont. Bradley began writing poetry at an early age, and published his first book, “The Rights of Youth,” at the age of twelve. “Verses in a Watch,” in John Walter Coates & Frederick Tucker (eds.), Vermont. “Verse: An Anthology” (Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Daye Press, 1932) “A Ballad of Judgment and Mercy,” in A.J. Sanborn (ed.), Green Mountain Poets 158-160 (Claremont, New Hampshire: Claremont Manufacturing Co., 1872). Bradley’s law office in Westminster was deeded to the State of Vermont in 1998. Bradley used the law office from 1810 until his retirement in 1858; the law office had been undisturbed until it was deeded to the state. In July 2001 The William Czar Bradley Law Office was opened to the public.
WCBII was the first library director of BML, 1884-1904? He was the Harvard University class poet, and has one published volume of poetry as well as his “Pell-Mell Book,” which are his
THE BOOK CELLAR
120 Main Street
First home of the Stephen Greene Press, As a bookstore, a local icon 50 years
FREDERIC VAN DE WATER (1890-1968), DUMMERSTON, VT.
Frederic Franklyn Van de Water was an American journalist and writer. He was an honorary sergeant in the New York State Troopers. In 1924, he travelled in the West Indies investigated and reported about rum pirates and Chinese smugglers.He wrote for Harper’s magazine. He wrote short stories for pulp fiction magazines such as Collier’s. List of titles includes: “Glory-hunter; a life of General Custer”,
“Rudyard Kipling’s Vermont feud”, “Horsemen of the law”, “Grey riders; the story of the New York state troopers”, “Wings of the Morning”, 1955.
CALDWELL BARN, Putney
Cross Country Ski Olympic coach John Caldwell wrote “The Cross Country Ski Book” — the first of its kind and what Boston Globe called the ‘bible of the sport” in 1964, published by Stephen Greene Press, a family continues the tradition as top competitors.
THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON, ASYLUM STREET
A letter written by TW Higginson May 7, 1858 while he was in Brattleboro to John Brown encouraging him to go through with the raid, which was Brown’s undoing in October of the following year. Higginson’s brother was a doctor and knew about the restorative waters of Brattleboro (moved here 1842-43) before Wesselhoeft moved to the area. T.W. was also a close friend of Lucy Stone’s, who was a close friend of Clarina Nichols, and they were all women’s rights, radical abolitionists hanging out in Brattleboro in the 1850’s. T.W. was also a member of the “Secret Six”, a group of men who organized the financing of John Brown’s Raid, and Brown’s other acts of civil disobedience.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS, TOWN HALL ON MAIN STREET
The famous African American social reformer spoke for an hour and three quarters on January 4, 1866 covering topics facing America at the time. It had been less than a year since the Civil War had ended and Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. Less than a month earlier, the 13th amendment to the Constitution had officially freed 4 million African American slaves. During the same time, many southern states passed racist “Black Code” laws that limited African American freedoms and forced many into involuntary labor. Three northern states; Connecticut, Wisconsin and Minnesota had just voted not to allow African Americans the right to vote. Andrew Johnson, the southerner who became President when Lincoln was shot, shared his opinions with Congress that African Americans should not be granted voting rights or equal protections under the law, and he hoped to send the freed slaves to Africa. Amidst this turmoil, Douglass spoke on each of these subjects while visiting our town. According to newspaper reporting from the Vermont Phoenix and the Vermont Record, Douglass was modest in demeanor, quiet in manner, while also a forceful, powerful orator. He spoke eloquently about Abraham Lincoln. He praised the Civil War President for the Emancipation Proclamation and his ability to keep the nation together. He spoke about the direction of the country since the President’s assassination. He chastised the southern states for the creation of the racist Black Codes. He disagreed with the current President’s attempts at dismantling the Freedmen’s Bureau. He spoke forcibly for the voting rights of African Americans and women. Douglass had also spoken in Brattleboro before.
JOHN HOLBROOK HOUSE After retirement from active business in 1825, Deacon John Holbrook built his late Federal style house on twenty acres of land, across from the Common, now the corner of Linden and Chapin Streets. In 1795 he moved to Brattleboro. Holbrook established an outlet for farm produce with a leading Hartford, Connecticut merchant. He built a slaughter house on the island later known as Island Park where large quantities of beef, pork, and hams were cured for the West India trade market. He also owned the first flat-bottomed boat on the Connecticut River for the exchange of heavy freight with the seaboard. He owned “The Highlander”, a flat boat which could carry 24 tons and was the largest of its type on the river. Meanwhile, he became quite successful in importing goods from the West Indies to Brattleboro by water. In 1816 John Holbrook (a Deacon of the First Church of Brattleboro’s East Village) took over his son-in-law’s business of paper making, printing, bookbinding, and book dealing, as well as the publishing of one of Brattleboro’s first newspapers. Besides Deacon Holbrook’s extensive commercial ventures by flatboat, his trade with the West Indies and his publishing interests, he was one of the original directors of the Phoenix Bank of Hartford, Connecticut; president of the Brattleboro Bank; one of the original trustees of the Vermont Asylum for the Insane; and also one of the first trustees of the Brattleboro High School Assoc.
MARSHALL TWITCHELL, Townshend, Fairground Road
Local Civil War participant, Marshall Twitchell, stayed in Louisiana after the war and ran for state-wide office. He won critical African American support and was elected to the state senate. During the war he had commanded African American troops. He had worked for the U.S. government during Reconstruction and had championed African American causes. He was also influential in the organization of the African American public school system.
In May, 1876 a Ku Klux Klan assassin armed with a rifle attempted to kill Twitchell. Twitchell was wounded six times, which required the amputation of both arms above the elbow. Two of his relatives had been assassinated earlier by the Klan because they also supported African American rights. Twitchell moved back to the Townshend area after the assassination attempt and Reconstruction in the south faded away. Twitchell’s autobiography is titled Carpetbagger from Vermont. There is also a book written about him by Ted Tunnell called Edge of the Sword
LUCY STONE OLD BAPTIST CHURCH (CORNER OF ELLIOT AND CHURCH ST)
Stone was a working-class advocate for the abolition movement and women’s rights. She was a friend of Clarina Nichols and spoke frequently at the old Baptist Church. Her first paid speeches were made in Brattleboro.
MARY SHIMINSKI TRAIN OVERPASS AT THE PUTNEY ROAD ROUNDABOUT
Poet Miriam Andrews wrote a poem “Mary Shiminski, I Love You” based upon the 1974 story of Mary and Bert, who played out a romance between Putney, Spofford Lake and HoJo’s during the summer of ‘74. The MacArthur’s recorded a song about the love story as well. The words “Mary Shiminski, I Love You” were spray painted on the overpass.
12 CHESTNUT HILL, HOWARD C. RICE and MARION MCCUNE RICE
Built in 1912 for ‘power couple’ Howard C. Rice, founder/Publisher of Brattleboro Daily Reformer and his residence until his death, and his wife Marion who was World War 1 nurse for four years and wrote letters home describing the war. In 1919 she joins Simmonds College of Boston as professor and director of School of Public Health Nursing. A PBS documentary “American Nurse at War” focuses on Ms. Rice’s experience
THOMAS “STONEWALL” JACKSON WESSELHOEFT WATERCURE July, 1860, Jackson and his wife stayed at the watercure for two weeks…he wrote his brother that the visit was a waste of time, they moved on to a watercure in Northampton where they believed they had more success…”Stonewall” was suffering from stomach pains. He thought it was a kidney problem, might have been kidney stones.
LARKIN MEAD MAYBE WELLS FOUNTAIN (site of Recording Angel ice sculpture)
Larkin Mead worked as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly during the early stages of the Civil War and had his illustrations published in the magazine, along with reports on the war. He was also a famous artist who sculpted a few statues on display at the Vt. capitol building in Montpelier and some work focused on Lincoln.
AUDITORIUM IN TOWN HALL, BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
On December 13, 1899 Booker T. Washington came to Brattleboro and gave an address in the Town Hall Auditorium entitled “Solving the Race Problem”. In Washington’s 1899 speech to the people of Brattleboro he said the “race problem” would be simply solved when everyone, negro and white, treated one another like they would like to be treated. In other words, African Americans should be able to vote, they should be able to own property, educate their children, operate a business and compete equally in the economy. He then went on to explain how all of these rights were denied African Americans in the South, and in some Northern cities as well.
Booker T. Washington went further to say, once all people treated one another equally, African Americans would help themselves and rise to join white people. Then, the two races, which are truly inseparable, would thrive in co-existence. Local Congregational, Baptist and Presbyterian Churches supported Washington’s visit to Brattleboro. One of Booker T. Washington’s speaking tour goals was to raise money for rural African American schools in the South. Residents of Brattleboro had shown a willingness to donate to these causes in the past. Jacob Estey, of Estey Organ, had funded the construction of the first African American dorm for women at Shaw University in North Carolina.According to the local paper, Washington was well received by a capacity crowd at the auditorium.
DANIEL WEBSTER PLINY PARK, BRIDGE OVER WEST RIVER OR TOP OF GROVE ST. Daniel Webster was a frequent visitor to Brattleboro. According to the book, Burt’s Illustrated Guide of the Connecticut Valleypublished in 1867, Daniel Webster was a good friend of Jonathan Hunt’s. Jonathan Hunt was a U.S. Congressman from Vermont who lived in the first brick house built in Brattleboro. In the early 1800’s it was the custom for two or more Congressmen to share a home in Washington rather than to live at a hotel and Webster and Hunt were housemates while they both served in the U.S. Congress in the 1820’s. Webster was a recurrent visitor to Hunt’s home in Brattleboro and, according to Webster’s letters, the two families also vacationed together in New York state. In 1829 Daniel Webster spent the summer with the Hunt’s in Brattleboro and he and Jonathan discussed the direction the country should take. There were some in Congress who felt the United States would not survive as the three sections of the country had competing interests. Slavery, trade, immigration and labor costs were some of the issues tearing the country apart. According to historian Henry Burt, it was during Webster’s summer trip to Brattleboro, visiting with Jonathan Hunt, where he formed the ideas and arguments that would keep the country together until the Civil War. Around 1840, Daniel Webster visited Brattleboro again and gave a rousing speech in an oak grove behind Joseph Goodhue’s house on upper Main Street. The speech contained support for the current Whig party candidate for President, William Henry Harrison, and included a brief overview of the U.S. Constitution. Daniel Webster was a well-known politician and lawyer originally from NH and was introduced to the supportive crowd as “the Defender of the Constitution”. Webster also worked as a lawyer and represented a private company attempting to keep the Putney Road bridge over the West River a private concern, but lost the case in a Supreme Court judgement.
BROOKS MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY The library, where “words” come alive though a myriad of written forms; the library a site where “words” flow from writers, researchers and speakers. Trace the evolution of the current BML dating back to 1842. Noting famous individuals who used the library for writing, research etc.
STEPHEN DAYE PRESS AND STEPHEN GREENE PRESS These two publishers were major pioneers in publishing books with both a regional history and focus and interesting genres. Their publications included books focusing on winter and other sports such as cross country skiing; books that revived long-lost cooking methods and books that featured Vermont and New England authors and regional history.
BRATTLEBORO BOOKSTORES In the early 2000s there were at least five or more bookstores in town. The locations and focus of each bookstore would be of interest, and perhaps note 20th century bookstores focus and success. Bookstores tells us something about the Brattleboro community intellectual curiosity, buying capabilities and social habits. Today’’s bookstores are Everyone’s, Brattleboro Books, Mystery on Main, Baskets. There are also rare book dealers in Brattleboro area.
BRATTLEBORO’S FIRST PAPER MILL dates from around the 1780s. In 1828 Samuel G. Foster invented the pulp dresser which was a major success in making it possible to produce whiter paper (also attributed to local water spring water). If we know the locations of first paper mill or Foster mill, these might be interesting sites.
THOMAS M. EASTERLY
Ffirst known photographs of Brattleboro circa 1848. Owned property in Brattleboro from 1839 to 1841. He was a calligrapher and gave writing lessons here in 1840. The three earliest photos show Brattleboro from Wantastiquet Mt., an image of the Retreat and an image of the Connecticut River.
THE MARLBORO THEATER COMPANY located at the current Colonel Williams Inn– in the barn, actually– a fabulous small company that operated for at least ten years the ‘60s and ‘70s, putting on everything from Ibsen and Shakespeare to Moliere and Pinter.