BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – On Wednesday, April 19, State Historic Preservation Officer Laura Trieschmann spent the day in Bellows Falls. Invited by Robert McBride, Director of the Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP), Trieschmann toured Bellows Falls to view the Connecticut River petroglyphs, Vilas Bridge, Robertson Paper Mill, Waypoint Center and on overview of downtown neighborhoods, followed by a roundtable brown bag discussion and downtown walking tour.
The conversation touched on many areas of interest from Certified Local Government (CLG) funding to the importance of paper document preservation during natural disasters such as Hurricane Irene in 2011. The topic of roadside markers created a lively conversation which caused local historian John Leppman to comment, “The verbosity of roadside markers is inversely proportional to the significance of the historic places they are in.”
Treischmann reflected on the notion that the recent past can be as important historically as the Civil War era. “We need to move beyond Ethan Allen here in Vermont. A lot of history remains to be told and we need to gather this information while we can still celebrate it, creating an inventory while the players are here to tell their stories.”
In particular she was referring to a new National Parks Service Northeast Region initiative identifying historically significant properties related to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) history in Vermont.
The state is known for its early adoption of civil unions and same-sex marriage. Trieschmann shared that a marker has been erected between the State House and the Supreme Court in Montpelier to commemorate these equality milestones. But a key reason for her visit to Bellows Falls was to learn more about the Andrew’s Inn, which served as a travel destination for gay men and women who came to the village from as far away as New York and Boston to find safety and acceptance during the 70s and 80s. The Inn was located in the former Windham Hotel, now home to Popolo Restaurant, and remains virtually unchanged.
HB Lozito, Executive Director of Green Mountain Crossroads in Brattleboro, has been working on the Andrew’s Inn Oral History Project since 2015, gathering the stories of men and women who experienced the Andrew’s Inn firsthand. According to Lozito, “When you think about it, Vermont has been a leader in the LGBTQ movement. This building is really important. What happened here is important and the history is in danger of being erased. The Andrews Inn was the only place of its kind.”
Susan Ferentinos has been hired as a consultant by the National Parks Service to coordinate with the Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer to review different sites in the Northeast that may be eligible.
For more information, contact RAMP at 802-463-3252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.