This Place in History: Johnson Historical Society

Local News


At ‘This Place in History’, we’re in Johnson with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“So we decided to check out a little slice of Johnson history. We’ve been in touch with our friends at the Johnson Historical Society. Dean West, the Vice President of that society is going to meet us inside and show us around,” introduced Perkins.

“[The building] was named for Dr. Lyndhurst P. Holcomb. He was a graduate of the second graduating class of the University of Vermont. He purchased the building in 1909. He started his practice here and continued, closing in maybe the 70s,” began West.

“He left the building to his grandson. The grandson was an undertaker and kept the building and used it as a funeral home. It was then purchased by another undertaker, and it remained a funeral home until about 2014.”

“The historical society decided they needed a home. They had a home. It became too small and we needed larger quarters. We talked the town into backing us on a mortgage so that we could purchase after looking at a number of sites. And in 2015, we had a special town meeting and the voters strongly supported us to back for a note to the tune of $250,000. It took us about a year or so until we moved in so we’ve only been in here for a couple of years,” explained West.

“We are looking at a washing machine that a resident found in his grandmother-in-law’s attic in his garage.  And there’s no telling how long it had been stored. It’s a Majestic washing machine. Majestic, so far as I know, still makes washing machines, but they make washing machines mostly for commercial use,” said West.

“This washing machine was made probably around 1914. The main tub is wood, the legs are wood and if you look inside the tub, you notice the inside of the tub which is wood-lined is also corrugated. This is the agitator. And the interesting thing about this is that the agitator works exactly the same as an agitator might work in a current washing machine. Because it’s all manual, you turn this handle and watch, the agitator goes back and forth when you turn the handle in only one direction. You don’t have to reverse the turn. And that’s done quite simply by some ingenious person who developed this gear system. If you watch it, as you turn this, right now this agitator is being driven by the bottom of this gear. As you go around this groove, that gear drops and now the agitator is driven by the top of the gear which makes the agitator goes back and forth,” demonstrated West.

“We’re open Thursdays from 9 in the morning until noon and on Sunday from 1 to 4. And at any other time, we have on the door telephone numbers listed where people can call and make an appointment with us and we’re happy to open up and show them the whole collection,” concluded West.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers, click here.

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