Waitsfield Historical Society

Understanding our past is vital
as we prepare for the future...


The Waitsfield Historical Society Annual Barbecue Dinner Was Held Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at LAREAU FARMS PAVILION at 6:00PMPapa Graybeard

Since we had such good feedback from last year’s Annual Dinner we had the dinner at the Lareau Farms Pavilion again this year. Entertainment was by“PapaGraybeard” aka Keith Williams,who played from a selection of Acoustic Blues, Folk, Jazz, Country& Americana, Guitar, Resonator, Harmonica & Foot Drums. 

Annual Dinner 2016


Our archival collections depend a great deal on the generosity of people in our community or others who donate articles to the WHS. A wonderful sign which reads "Livery & Feed Stable", off of what was Roy Long's Livery & Feed Store in Warren, and is now "The Warren Store". It is made entirely of wood, each letter made of pieces cut to form. It was purchased at auction by Mr. Harvey Geiger several years ago. He offered the sign to the Pitcher Inn and with them turning it down, he contacted his friend Bob Burley to see if the Waitsfield Historical Society would like it. Needless to say, it now has a home on a wall in the Wait House Carriage Barn for all to see.

Earlier this year we received a donation of a Dictionary Stand from Ruth Pestle. It has metal legs and stem leading to a wooden platform for the dictionary (or bible). It had come from the family of Lois Richardson, Ruth's sister. Originally owned by Clayton & Maude Richardson, who for some time lived in what was the Methodist Episcopal parsonage and is now the Waitsfield Inn on Rt. 100. It is on display in the Museum room of the Wait House.

Another item that came to us in the past year was a drop leaf table with a drawer on one end made in the mid 1800's. It was donated by Susan Haitsma, now living in Delaware. In 1972 she purchased the Prentis House on Rt.100 (now King & King) from Edna Prentis Walter.
The maker of the table was Edna's maternal Grandfather, Elisha Benton Richardson born in 1807 in Waitsfield and lived in the brick house on North Rd. (now the Elwin Neill house). It then went to Elisha's daughter, Laura Richardson Prentis and then on to her twin daughters, Josie and Jessie Prentis, born in 1881, and then their niece Edna Prentis Walter inherited it.
The documentation came with the table, a wonderful thing to have. It is now on display in our museum room of the Wait House with our Guest Book on it.
Archival Update

The Historical Society's archival department is moving along with getting all donated items on the computer and organizing them. The Past Perfect program which we are using
will make it easy for us to search for information when someone requests it. There are four categories to separate items: Archives, Objects, Library and Photos. The photo part will be
the last to tackle, as we have many, and in most cases, no information came with them. by Shirley Viens & Lois DeHeer, Archivists

Maybe you have already seen the large collection of glass slides that are now on the WHS website. You can go to www.waitsfieldhistoricalsociety.com and click on “Photos”. From there you will find a link smugmug.com . If you click on that the pictures will come up.
The challenge is to find identifications for all these photos. Jim Dodds and Sandra Reilly are working on this project with the help of invaluable information from Keven Eurich and Steve Joslin. Jim is improving the slide views and Sandra is adding titles whenever there are some available. Since we have 803 slides this project will take some time. Viewers of the pictures can help by letting us know if they can identify some of the photos.

**************************************************************** DAIRY BARN PROJECT UPDATE by Lois DeHeer

The Historical Society has requested the town to apply for a Historic Building Preservation Grant to complete the restoration of the Historic Wait House property. The Wait House and Carriage Barn are useful but the Dairy Barn has yet to get attention. This is where the Historical Society will present to the public "A Family Farm Museum of the 1800's", which has been the plan from the time of the Wait House purchase. It took several years, with your help, to get the Carriage Barn in it's present condition to be able to hold programs and meetings. We will be holding fund raisers, as a grant (if we are approved), will be a matching one.
Cleaning out the Dairy Barn will start shortly with removing the old lumber and debris that has collected through the years. We welcome the help in any way from our members or their friends to bring the Dairy Barn to life!


“MEMORIES OF OLDE TYME FARMING” The “Olde Tyme Farming” program was a great success. On Wednesday, May 11 everyone enjoyed a delicious potluck supper and a panel discussion about farming in the Valley in the “old days”. The panel members were Gordie Eurich, Fred Messer, Paul Marble and Fred Viens. 

Holding Forth on The Old Tymes
Lois the Moderator
Shirley Viens, Coordinator

We also celebrated Peter Laskowski’s birthday, with his grand-daughter's help!!


The Waitsfield Historical Society is initiating a new research project on the historic houses of Waitsfield. Key to this effort is gathering additional photos, drawings, and related information on the older homes in town. If anyone has such photos or drawings in their possession, and would like to have the Historical Society preserve them, please contact us to arrange a donation. In addition, well made copies are welcome, or can be made with our assistance.
At this point, the Waitsfield Historical Society is focusing on the houses built during the late 1700's and early 1800's. Newer house information will be gathered as the research progresses.
In addition to collecting images, the Historical Society would also like to gather more info on historic house furnishings. Thus, descriptions of house interiors, inventories, and diaries highlighting such details are much sought after.
If anyone is interested in doing some of this research on their home, or those around them, please contact the Historical Society so that we can coordinate our efforts. We are trying to establish the dates that all the older houses and farms were built, and appreciate help in pegging these down. We are also focusing on house modifications and additions, and welcome images or anecdotes that clarify these.
Finally, we are seeking contemporary photos of the buildings, farms, and structures in Waitsfield, so that our archival holdings reflect how the town is changing and growing. Any intrepid photographers who would like to help with this undertaking should contact us at- Fieldview@aol.com or calling 802-522-611

************************************************************************ REFLECTIONS on the 1833 COVERED BRIDGE by Bob Burley

Ever since the Town Of Waitsfield decided, in March 1972, to restore and continue active use of the covered bridge, the Historical Society has taken a serious interest in its treatment and preservation. Recent flood damage required changes to the stream bank protection, the bridge supports, and the pedestrian walkway.

The Waitsfield Development Review Board issued a Public Hearing notice for November 17, 2015, which identified work that would require conditional use approval: abutment expansion at both ends of the bridge, new impervious surfaces, guardrails, street lighting, benches, and a metal (rather than wood shingle) roof. The DRB scheduled a site visit to the Bridge for December 11, 2015, and several members of the Waitsfield Historical Society (WHS) Board attended and made comments.

Valerie Capels suggested that we should write a letter describing our concerns, which we did on December 21. The 1833 Bridge is a contributing structure in the National Register of Historic Places, and we have been interested in following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Structures. Our concerns included:
The proposal for additional street lamps at both ends of the bridge, which would provide a higher light level than needed, create glare, and would be “non-contributing” according to the Standards.
As part of Milton Graton’s 1973 restoration work, a cedar shingle roof was applied in place of metal. This is a complex issue considering the young people’s use of the roof today. The Standards call for replacing worn out materials with the same historic material. Cedar Shingles would still be our preference.
Metal railings leading to the pedestrian walkway rather than wood railings, as confirmed by a WHS historic photograph, and as illustrated in the Valley Reporter.
After further meetings and discussion, the DRB issued a Findings of Fact and Notice of Decision on June 7th, 2016. The application was approved, subject to conditions, including:
A preference for a cedar shake roof, with two alternatives. No new lighting on or around the bridge is allowed. A wooden railing may be installed on the western and eastern side of the
bridge in place of the iron guardrail proposed by the applicant. Historic preservation of our village, farms, and houses is an important responsibility of WHS. Recently, we were contacted by the State to comment on an antenna proposed for the roof of an historic building. The building had a flat roof and the proposal was to build a cupola on the roof to hide a cluster of antennas. We explained how that would change the significant architectural nature of the building, and a less damaging solution was found.

Thirty-two years ago, in 1984, two Junior High historians, Mathew Viens and Sean Siner entered a state competition for Vermont History Day and the theme was, "Family and Community in History". Their project consisted of a scale model of the General Wait House along with it's history, which they titled "A Vermont House Speaks". The Competition was for Vermont students in grades 6 through 12. The boy's project, which was one of eight entries to the junior projects category, won first prize in that division and earned the two seventh graders
a trip to Washington, D C. They spent four days in and around the Capital, staying at the University of Maryland.

The model house was donated to the Waitsfield Historical Society and is on display, along with it's "history board", on the second floor of the Wait House in the hall outside of the Historical Society office and can be viewed by all.
P.S. Mathew is presently involved in the Burlington Historical Preservation Organization.

Thanks to Lois DeHeer who did extensive research on the history of the Wait House.
1793 House constructed (approx) on .88acres.
1814 Roderick Richardson now owns house.
1822 Date of General Benjamin’s death.
1830 House now owned by Dan Richardson (Roderick’s son)
and moved down to its present site. Later remodeled to 2 stories.
1909 (prior) Carriage Barn construction (23‘x29’, 665sq ft )
One paper reads house changed around 1835-possible time barn was added or shortly after.
1906(?) Waitsfield History book reports that Ervin S. Joslin now occupies the house
(History book as Stephen Ervin Joslin)
1954 House in name of Frank O. Joslin upon Ervin’s death. Fletcher Joslin was Executor of the estate.
1970 Ruth C. & Ernest Bareham of Gowanda, NY purchased house from Frank Joslin.
1988 Bruce Bareham & Brenda Mack inherited the house.
1995 Town of Waitsfield purchased house from Bruce Bareham and Chris & Brenda Mack for $168,500.

The Waitsfield Historical Society, through fund raising, contributed $50,000 toward the purchase.

Waitsfield Historical Society, PO Box 816, Waitsfield VT 05673