SAINT ALBANS, Vt.
At ‘This Place in History’, we’re in Saint Albans with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
“We’re going to be talking about Taylor Park, a beautiful green space, or should we say white space behind us here and it’s importance to the city of Saint Albans,” said Perkins.
“Taylor Park is really the village green, right? It’s this town common, the center of activity. It was a deliberate gift. Taylor was a local farmer who donated the land and fenced it off so that it could be preserved for common use. It had a lot of different uses and a lot of imagined uses that never came to be,” began Saint Albans Museum Director Alex Lehning.
“So for a time, it was likely some grazing land. There were two public wells that operated out of the park for a while. There was actually in Vermont history a famous legal case in the 1820s. A local resident claimed that he had connections to the original deed to build a barn on the property and defended it with his firearm and dared anybody to come and take the land from him. It lost in court and the land was recognized as belonging to the community of Saint Albans. At one time, it was thought maybe we’d use it for sporting fields and that never materialized. Mainly it’s known for its memorials. So there’s a Civil War memorial and a World War I memorial.”
“You can’t talk about Taylor Park and not mention the fountain,” added Perkins.
‘The fountain is the crowning jewel of the park, if you will. The fountain we know now today is different than what it originally looked like. It was actually a gift from J. Gregory Smith, a famous name in 1887, who wanted this centerpiece for the park. At one time, there was a bridge and a small pond with some running water. Today, we just have the fountain that remains, a beautiful example of architecture, something the community has treasured and has been part of recent restoration efforts,” explained Lehning.
“In the mid 2000s, there was recognition that weather was going to keep the pieces at risk, that there was a risk for further decline due to exposure over the years and that repair wasn’t an option. The decision was made to recast the figures of the original fountain. This was a large community effort spearheaded by the Rotary Club. Originally, the statues, I should mention, came from the Fisk Company in New York City, who was responsible for monuments all around the U.S. This was taken down, dismantled and driven down to Alabama, recast down there. The originals were given back to the community, three of which are here preserved at the museum. The others are with the town and the city and the organizations that were part of this project,” said Lehning.
“We’re really glad that original vision and goal is still being met [today]. Families still utilize the green space. In 2014, there was the commemoration, the 150th of the Saint Albans Raid. There was a festival and a reenactment. We have the Maple Festival. As you know, Saint Albans is the “maple capital” of the world. There are concerts in the park and a Veterans Day ceremony with students and veterans honoring their service. Through the seasons, you can still see people coming together and using the green for what it was originally intended and the fountain remains a central point today,” concluded Lehning.
At ‘This Place in History’!
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