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A Visit to the Shelburne Museum 6/19/2015

by Chris Guenzler

After Robin and I left the NRHS Omya Trip at Rutland, we drove to the Shelburne Museum with a stop along the way.

We passed this mural on the side of a building then continued west toward Central Rutland and once on US Highway 5 at the grade crossing, we saw the tail end of the Rutland-to-Omya Vermont Railroad train. I got ahead of it and we set up for pictures.

The Rutland-to-Omya Vermont Railroad train heading back to the Omya Plant. We made our way north to our next stop.

The Vermont Maple Museum.

The big maple pot at the Vermont Maple Museum.

Vermont Maple Museum view.

Vermont Maple Museum covered bridge.

Chris and the little Vermont Maple Museum steam engine. We continued north on Highway 7.

We stopped at the New Haven Junction Rutland station built in 1868 then drove north to the Shelburne Museum.

The United States of America Flag flies in the breeze in front of the museum.

The main entrance to the Shelburne Museum. We went inside and bought our tickets for our visit.

The Shelburne Museum History

Shelburne Museum is a museum of art, design and Americana located in Shelburne, Vermont. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in 38 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds. It is located on 45 acres near Lake Champlain.

Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings and an array of 17th-to 20th-century artifacts are on view. Shelburne is home to collections of 19th-century American folk art, quilts, 19th- and 20th-century decoys (Waterfowl decoy collecting) and carriages.

Electra Havemeyer Webb was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947. The daughter of Henry Osborne Havemeyer and Louisine Elder Havemeyer, important collectors of Impressionism, European and Asian art, she exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts and architecture celebrating a distinctly American aesthetic.

When creating the Museum she took the step of collecting 18th and 19th century buildings from New England and New York in which to display the Museum's holdings, relocating 20 historic structures to Shelburne. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.

In Shelburne Mrs. Webb sought to create "an educational project, varied and alive". Shelburne's collections are exhibited in a village-like setting of historic New England architecture, accented by a landscape that includes over 400 lilacs, a circular formal garden, herb and heirloom vegetable gardens and perennial gardens.

In 2013, the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education was opened with two galleries, an auditorium and classroom, transforming the institution from seasonal (mid-May through October) to year-round operation. While the main campus operates seasonally, the Pizzagalli Center and Museum Store are open year-round.

The Museum's Collections

The museum's collection was begun by Electra Havemeyer Webb, one of the first people to recognize the applied and decorative arts of rural America as collectible. Webb was an avid collector of American folk art and founded the Museum in 1947. She took the step of relocating historic buildings from New England and New York to Shelburne in which to display the Museum's holdings. Mrs. Webb exchanged ideas with other major early collectors, including Katherine Prentis Murphy, Henry and Helen Flynnt and Henry Francis du Pont (who founded Winterthur Museum and credited Mrs. Webb with inspiring him to collect American decorative arts).

Since Mrs. Webb's death in 1960, the collections have developed with an emphasis on folk art and contemporary art as it relates to the collection. Artifacts provide insight into the craftsmanship and artistic quality of objects made and used by three centuries of Americans. Visitors experience these objects in galleries and period rooms and through interactive exhibitions and demonstrations. Transportation, farming and trade artifacts illustrate America's industrial development from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. These collections are increasingly relevant to regional audiences from varied backgrounds as the economic base of the community shifts away from farming and small-scale production.

Shelburne Museum's purpose is to enrich people's lives through art, history and culture. The collection of approximately 150,000 objects is one of the most extensive and varied collections in the United States and is notable for its great range, quality and depth. The outstanding collections of fine, folk and decorative art celebrate American ingenuity, creativity and craftsmanship.

Shelburne's folk art collection includes 1,400 wildfowl decoys and miniature carvings, 150 trade figures and signs, 120 weather vanes and 50 carousel figures, including all 40 animals from an early Dentzel carousel. The circus collection includes 600 historic posters, letters and memorabilia from P.T. Barnum and the hand-carved 3,500 piece Kirk Brothers Miniature Circus. The Roy Arnold Circus Parade recreates in miniature 112 attractions from the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros. and Robinson circuses in 525 linear feet of a special exhibition building.

Textiles include 770 bed coverings (including 500 quilts), 400 hooked and sewn rugs, early household textiles (1,800 samplers, laces and linens) and 2,800 costumes and accessories. The decorative arts collection has 6,650 pieces, including glass, ceramics, pewter, metalwork, scrimshaw and one of the country's best regional collections of 18th- and 19th-century painted furniture. Over 1,000 dolls, 27 dollhouses and 1,200 doll accessories echo in miniature the museum's collections of ceramics, furniture and other household furnishings. A major reinterpretation and related publication of the doll collection was completed in 2004. The collection of American and European toys dates from the beginning of the 19th century.

At the museum there are some 3,200 American prints, paintings, drawings and graphics that relate to daily life. American paintings include works by Bierstadt, Church, Mary Cassatt, Copley, Daubigny, Field, Heade, Hicks, Homer, Lane, Grandma Moses, Peto and Andrew Wyeth. A significant group of European paintings and pastels from the renowned Havemeyer collection includes works by Corot, Degas, Manet and Claude Monet; they are exhibited in furnished rooms re-created from the Webbs' New York apartment, c. 1930, and are the only Impressionism pictures on public view in Vermont.

Collections also include 225 horse-drawn vehicles (described as one of the best in the nation by Merri Ferrell, formerly curator of vehicles at The Long Island Museum of Art, History and Carriages); 1,000 farming implements; and 5,000 hand tools that document woodworking, metalsmithing, coopering, weaving and spinning, leatherworking and woodcarving trades. Craftspeople staff working exhibits of blacksmithing, printing, spinning and weaving. An apothecary shop/ physician's office displays 2,000 patent medicines and turn of the 20th century medical instruments.

The collections are exhibited in a setting of 38 exhibition buildings, 25 of which were relocated to the Museum; the 1871 Colchester Reef Light; 3 historic and 3 replica barns, including a 1901 Vermont round barn; a vintage operating carousel; blacksmith and wheelwright shops; a weaving shop with an operating Jacquard loom; a working exhibit of late 19th-century printing equipment; an 1840 one-room schoolhouse; an 1890 Vermont slate jail; an 1840 general store; a rare 18th-century up-and-down sawmill; a 19th-century covered bridge with 2 lanes and a footpath; general store; the reconstructed doctor's office of noted Vermont physician D. C. Jarvis; an 1890 railroad station; a 1914 steam locomotive and 1890 private rail car; and the 1906 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga, which is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Our Visit

We started our visit looking around the Shelburne Museum.

The Round Barn.

The Carousel.

We next walked through the Circus Building.

Inside the Circus Building.

The Carousel from the Circus Building.

Another view of the Round Barn.

The Beach Gallery.

The Beach Lodge.

Rutland Railroad freight shed built in 1963.

A.G. Dewey Mill "Gertie Buck", a track inspection car with an 0-2-2 wheel arrangement also known as a Northumbrian, named after one of eight locomotives with this layout supplied to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway by Robert Stephenson and Company after 1829. It was was built in 1883 and used by the Dewey family on the fourteen mile Woodstock Railway. A. G. Dewey operated a substantial woollen mill at Queechee serviced by the railroad, which ran from White River Junction to Woodstock. The line operated from 1875 until 1933 when it was abandoned.

A replica of "Old Ironsides", the first American steam engine built by Baldwin in 1832 and was displayed at the Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Baldwin built his first, small demonstration engine in 1831 and used it to pull cars with four passengers around a circular track at Peale's Philadelphia City Museum. The popularity of the display prompted the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad to order a full-scale version. This engine, nicknamed "Old Ironsides", was a close copy of the English engines used on the New Castle & Frenchtown Railroad.

The Rutland Railroad station, built circa 1890, has been moved to the Shelburne Museum.

The shed the covers Central Vermont 4-6-2 220 and Central Vermont business car "Grand Isle" built by Wagner in the 1890's.

Interior views of "Grand Isle".

Central Vermont 4-6-0 226 built by American Locomotive Company in 1915. This engine is known as "Locomotive of the Presidents" because of its use over the years on special trains carrying Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was little used after its last overhaul in the 1940's, primarily as a backup for the gas-electric car that normally ran between St. Albans, Vermont and St. John, Quebec. It made its last trip on an excursion in 1955 and was donated to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont in 1956.

One more view of the Shelburne station.

Shelburne station scene.

The Ticonderoga, a 220 foot sidewheel steamboat built in 1906 in Shelburne and operated as a day boat on Lake Champlain serving ports along New York and Vermont shores until 1953.

The Lighthouse, originally sited on Lake Champlain’s Colchester Reef, served as a home and workplace for eleven successive lighthouse keepers and their families. It was built in 1871 to mark three reefs between Vermont and New York. Because it had to endure strong lake winds, it is solidly built with a post-and-beam frame and one-and-a-half-inch thick iron rods. In 1952, the abandoned Lighthouse was dismantled from its site on the lake and re-constructed at the Museum.

The Track Car shed.

The Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shop built in 1800.

The Meeting Hall.

One more view of the Meeting Hall.

The Dutton House.

The Vermont House Gallery.

The Pond.

The Horseshoe Barn Annex.

The Print Shop.

The Weaving Shop.

The Shaker Shed.

The Horseshoe Barn.

The Jail.

The Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery.

Looking towards the Stagecoach Inn.

The Toy Shop.

The Stone Cottage.

Two more views of the Toy Shop.

The Town Well.

The Schoolhouse.

The covered bridge at the Shelburne Museum which is from Cambridge and built in 1845.

The Stagecoach Inn.

The Dorset House.

The Settlers' Barn.

The Sawmill.

The Settlers' House.

The outdoor oven.

The Dutton House.

The Webb Gallery.

The Stencil House.

The Lighthouse.

The Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building.

Two views of the Ticonderoga.

Another view of the Lighthouse.

The Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education.

The Round Barn.

The Welcome Garden.

The Ticonderoga. I would like to thank the Shelburne Museum for letting us visit their museum today.

The Drive back to Rutland

Life is my highway when you can see Lake Champlain. On the return trip we would stop at covered bridges on the way back to Rutland.

The Spade Farm Covered Bridge, also called the Old Hollow Covered Bridge, built in 1850.

The Cooley Covered Bridge which was built in 1849 and carries Elm Street across Furnace Brook in Pittsford. It is one of a small number of bridges in the state that has a well-documented association with the 19th-century master bridgewright Nicholas M. Powers, who grew up nearby. It is one of four surviving 19th-century covered bridges in the town.

Gorham Covered Bridge built in 1841 by Abraham Owen and Nicholas M. Powers and carries Gorham Bridge Road across Otter Creek in a rural area of Pittsford and Proctor.

The Depot Covered Bridge built circa 1840 and carries Depot Hill Road over Otter Creek in Pittsford. It is one of Vermont's older covered bridges, underwent restoration in the 1980s and was subsequently reinforced with steel stringers.

The Hammond Covered Bridge spans Otter Creek in Pittsford and was built in 1842 by Asa Norse, originally carrying Kendall Hill Road, which now passes just to its south.

The Hammond Covered Bridge historical sign. Robin and I returned to Rutland and saw the Vermont Railroad Burlington-to-Rutland freight train coming into town so went to photograph it.

Green Mountain Railroad GP40 304, ex. HATX 400, exx. CSXT 6532, nee Baltimore and Ohio 3756 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

We saw the freight coming but then it stopped to switch.

Vermont Railroad GP40-2LW 310, ex. HLCX 9650, nee Canadian National 9650 built by Electro-Motive Division 1976.

Vermont Railroad GP40-2 303, ex. HLCX 509, nee Boston and Maine 314 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1977.

Two views of the Vermont Railroad Burlington-to-Rutland freight. We returned to the Days Inn to get ready for the NRHS Banquet.

NRHS Banquet 6/19/2015

Robin and I drove across the highway to the Holiday Inn and parked then waited for the room to open and sat at Table 23 along with my dear friend Skip Waters from Texas who had my new NRHS membership card. I had Prime Rib and Robin had the fish; both were really good. We raised over $4,027 for RailCamp. Our speaker was Jerry Hebda, who showed a power point presentation on the Vermont Rail System: Past, Present and Future. Once that ended it was announced that one could not park at the train station the next morning due to the Farmer's Market. Robin and I returned to the Days Inn and called it a night.