“We are here at the Milton Historical Society, and it’s a very interesting building — a great piece of adaptive re-use and some beautiful museum work,” Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins said. “We’re going to be joined by Jim Ballard, a member of the Historical Society who is going to tell us about the history of the building, and then Rick Stowell, the president of the Historical Society, is going to join us inside.”
“(The building) was an Episcopal church; the cornerstone was laid in 1891, (on) May 13th,” Ballard said. “Inside the cornerstone they placed, in a copper box, 27 items. Some of those items were a prayer book, a hymn book (and issues of) the (Burlington) Free Press and the St. Albans Messenger that told about the event. They’re still there. It was consecrated in 1891, that same year, December.
“It closed around 1993, ’94, somewhere in there. They had found that some structural work needed to be done and it was going to be too much (to pay for). I remember coming here when we did not have a bathroom. (After the town bought the property) they put in the bathroom, of course. We did put in an underground (level) for education, for meals and so forth.”
“Unfortunately, we had to close the museum due to COVID,” Stowell said. “One of our board members, Gary Furlong, at a meeting came up with the idea of ‘hey, let’s take advantage of this down time and do something with the museum; let’s re-imagine it’. We took a survey, online survey, of the public to see what their interests were and we came up with roughly 20 topics that people were looking at. We took about the top seven, and we started to formulate a plan on ‘OK, how we can showcase these exhibits?’ — Arrowhead Mountain, the flood of ’27, farming, the history of racing.”
“In addition to removing some of the items in previous use as a church — the pulpit, the pews and plenty of other items — you’ve had to do some construction of putting in some new walls and partitions to best present these things,” Mike Hoey said.
“Right, exactly; what we wanted to do was create the exhibits within their own section,” Stowell noted. “We wanted people to come in and, as they would come to the exhibits, we wanted it to make a learning experience.”
“You can read the space in many different ways,” Perkins observed. “You can just look at the pictures; you can read the text. There’s activities for children to do here. I congratulate the Historical Society on re-envisioning this. It’s a beautiful building — and so can you tell our viewers how they can come and explore?”