Deck the hall…

The restoration of Chester Town Hall is moving along rapidly. In the next few weeks the new floor will be completed. It really looks nice upstairs. The interior window casings are painted a darker color making them jump out from the freshly painted white walls.

The Chester Historical Society offered and the town accepted our offer to loan Chester artifacts to decorate the walls. As I explained it to the town: As you enter upstairs of town hall and look toward the stage, on the left and right walls we would place the sideboards of Ed Spaulding’s truck.

These would be placed high up between the windows and about two feet below the cornices. Placing them here will draw your eye down and showcase our beautiful cornices. One sideboard placed on the left wall. The other sideboard placed on the opposite wall to balance the room. The sideboards read: “E.W. Spaulding, Auctioneer, Chester Vermont” and are about six feet long.

Ed Spaulding Auctioneer. Photo provided

These sideboards were donated to the historical society by Ed Spaulding’s son Ted. Ted told me the history of these sideboards. His father first used them on his 1948 Chevy pick-up. This was a short bed truck. In 1951 Ed bought a new GMC pick-up. This truck had a longer bed. What to do?

Vermonters being frugal, Ed knew the solution. Ed simply added on a foot or so to the sideboards length. To do this he reinforced the addition with two irons straps that he bolted together over the joint.

Ed held many onsite auctions in Chester and surrounding towns. During the summer, Ed and his wife Lu ran auctions at the Town Farm on Route 10. It’s worth mentioning that Lu was the first female auctioneer in Vermont.

We will also loan the town portraits of Dr. Lauren Whiting and his wife Abigail. These are large portraits in original matching frames that date to about 1880. The Whitings are responsible for us having the Whiting Library today.

The Framery of Vermont on Elm Street is going to replace the old glass with UV glass, which will protect the portraits from light. New mats will replace the old and an acid-free back will be added. These portraits will be placed side by side between windows.


Town Hall
A print of the Academy Building. Photo provided

We also have a wonderful print of the old Chester Academy. This colorful print will receive the same treatment as the Whiting portraits.

Another historical item is our life-size metal crossing guard. He’s wearing a red uniform with his white patrol belt. This crossing guard is from the stone schoolhouse on North Street. It has metal loops on the reverse. These loops would have slid over a vertical pole with a heavy base.

I remember first grade at Chester Elementary School we had a more modern version of this crossing guard. There was a round and heavy cast iron base that had “Coca-Cola” cast in its base. There was a double-sided figure of a crossing guard that slid down onto a pole to keep it upright. He was dressed like a policeman complete with a visor cap. Ken Barrett’s father was the regular crossing guard. He was a nice man.

Downstairs in the Town Clerk’s office is a painting Bill Orcutt donated to the town years ago. This is a large painting probably done in the 1860s-1870s. It’s a woodland scene with a stream. It was painted by Albert L. Rawson. Rawson was born in Chester in 1828 or 1829. I find both dates.

After graduating Black River Academy in Ludlow, Rawson went on to become an influential 19th-century figure. He rubbed noses with European royalty and dignitaries. He may be best known for his association with Madam Blavatsky.

April 15, 1949, the town of Chester sold at auction the Town Farm on Route 10 in Gassetts. From Ted Spaulding, we have the original 1949 auction poster for this property. Chester Town Manager Allie Hawkes was the auctioneer. Ed and Lu Spaulding had been running the town farm for the town when it came up for auction. The Spauldings bought the town farm this day.

This is just a sample of items we will loan the town. Hopefully the acoustics will improve with objects on the walls. This project will be completed in time for Town Meeting 2020.

Last week’s “Whatzit” is a nose ring for leading a bull. When the spring is compressed the jaws would open. Inserted into the nostrils of the bull, it would securely lock inside the nostrils. A rope through the eyelet was used to lead the bull.

  This week’s old saying. “She’s so short she’d have to stand on a box just to kick a duck in the butt.”

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