Local History: Calendar correction

The 2022 Chester Historical Society calendars are now available. They are for sale at Erskine’s, Salon 2000, Stone House Antiques Center, Chester Hardware, Smitty’s, Blair Books & More, and The Framery of Vermont.

No one likes to admit a mistake, but I made one that needs to be addressed. The photo I used for December 2022 has an error in the caption. It’s the photo with this article.

The 405 with Vermont Minerals in the background that burned in 1955. Photo provided by Chester Historical Society
The 405 with Vermont Minerals in the background that burned in 1955. Photo provided by Chester Historical Society


I described the location as south of the Depot crossing and the tall building in the background as being E.J. Davis coal elevator. This is an error on my part. Ted Spaulding pointed out to me that it was the Vermont Mineral Products building that burned in 1955. Vermont Mineral was located just north of the First Avenue crossing on the left.

I do make mistakes now and then. There’s a difference between constructive criticism as Ted offered, and a gleeful “You got that wrong.”

In the antiques business, I have heard many times that antiques dealers never lose money. Well, if an antiques dealer doesn’t lose money now and then, he’s not buying very much. I make these mistakes too.

I was just shy of 4-years-old when this place burned so I have no memory. Because I don’t remember this building, I mistook the December photo as E.J. Davis coal elevator.

From the Nov. 9, 1955 Springfield Reporter:

“Vt. Mineral Products, Inc. Destroyed by Fire Saturday

  “The talc mill owned by the Vermont Mineral Products, Inc. in Chester Deport in Chester Vermont was completely destroyed Saturday night in a spectacular fire which broke out about 8:15 p. m. Flames shooting high into the air from the wooden structure attracted hundreds to the scene.

  “Damages estimated to be over $50,000. It is believed the fire started in the elevator shaft of the building but the cause is undetermined.

  “The alarm was sounded by Mrs. William Basso who saw the flames at about the same time a passing motorist noticed them. Fire Chief Albert Damore and about 20 men from Chester Fire Department Aid No.1 and a number of men from Fire District No.2 of Chester Depot, responded to the alarm. Chief Miland H. Jordon and about 10 men from Springfield Fire Department came to the aid of the Chester men. Firemen laid 6,000 feet of hose to pump water from the nearby river to save the plant. No one was injured.

  “Despite the efforts of the firemen the fire burned all night and it wasn’t until after daylight they were able to extinguish the stubborn blaze. The main tower collapsed to the ground with a terrific crash and sparks flew to nearby sheds and buildings. The firemen quickly doused the sparks and were able to confine the damage to the main buildings of the talc mill. The main tower, the stone shed, and machines were completely lost.

  “Stanley Dorand, President of the Vermont Mineral Products Inc., announced they were not definite for the future of the Company. The fire put 15 men out of work including those working the mine in Felchville.

  “Two Rutland Railroad cars loaded with talc on the companies siding were not damaged. The south bound freight was detained by two hours because of the heat.

  “A new truck for the Chester Fire Department had been shipped from Elmira, N.Y., on Wednesday of last week and was due to arrive in Chester on Saturday. Had it had arrived in time it would have helped considerable in an attempt to save these buildings.”


A couple months ago, I wrote an article for The Vermont Journal & The Shopper I titled, “The country auction.” It was an article about country auctions here in Vermont in the early 1970s. I described the old Vermonters, their farms, and their way of life. Because I lived it, no research was needed.

I was recently contacted by the editor of Journal of Antiques and Collectibles. This is a glossy antiques magazine with a national audience. For their upcoming March issue they are running a special feature about “Barns.” The publisher and editor searching online found my article, “The country auction.” Both loved it.

The editor contacted me to see if I would expand that article for their Barn feature this March. After some thought, I agreed. They want 1,500 words and any photos I might have. I have many photos to select from. It’ll be fun.


  This week’s old saying my mother used to say: “Good things always come in threes.”

Back To Top