THE MARLBORO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Historical Society of Marlboro was formed in 1966. The Ephraim Holland Newton house, built in 1814 by the town's second minister, is the Society's museum and presents the past through exhibits, documentations, an herb garden, and the Houghton Schoolhouse built in 1827, which was moved to the grounds of Newton House. Newton House and the schoolhouse are open for visiting Saturdays from 12:00 to 3:00 PM during the months of July and August. Admission to the house is free to all. Members' dues go to support programs and conservation activities throughout the year. To learn more about the Society and its activities see the topics below.
There are 4 classes of annual membership: Individual, $10; Family, $15; Supporting, $25; Sustaining, $50; and also Life membership, $125. Membership is from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. Each paid member is entitled to 10 % off the price of any Society publication. Send dues to Richard Lewontin, PO Box 274, Marlboro, VT 05344.
The Ephraim Holland Newton House, which was built in 1814 by the town's second minister, contains collections of early furniture, textiles, china and glassware such as might have been used during Rev. Newton's residency. The house itself, described by Newton's first son, was a small one-and-a-half story frame dwelling where everything was "of the simplest and plainest style". During the time he was minister Rev. Newton also served as Town Clerk, Town Treasurer and adviser to many students. His study is in the room at the left of the front door and undoubtedly served as the Town Clerk's office in his time. This room also contains early post office boxes from the time when Newton House was the location of the Marlboro post office.
Upstairs there is one finished bedroom and one unfinished room which contains a collection of early household and farm tools.
The one-room Houghton Schoolhouse which was moved from Cowpath 40 to the grounds of Newton House, is set up to replicate a 19th century schoolhouse and is also open to the public during the months of July and August. Sometimes it is used for special exhibits.
The Society also has a very extensive collection of early photographs of the town and its residents, as well as newer ones that document the development of Marlboro. These include the "Turn of the Century" project done be Forrest Holzapfel. He has photographed almost all of the residents of Marlboro in 1999 in front of their homes, providing an invaluable window on our town for future generations.
Other documents available are early maps, geneological records, manuscript reports of the original proprietors, newspaper clippings, letters and other miscellanea relating to the town. The photographs and documents are available for use at the Newton House when it is open, or by calling one of the persons listed under Officers (see above) when it is not.
Calendars can be obtained at the Town Office. Newton's History can be purchased from treasurer Richard Lewontin, P.O. Box 274, Marlboro, VT 05344 or by calling him at 254-9167. This is the only history of Marlboro at present. It traces the development of the town up to the Civil War. Full of both facts and interesting stories of everyday life in 18th and 19th century Marlboro. Proceeds from the sale of the History support the maintenance of the Newton House. Other items can be purchased from any of the persons listed under Officers.
Brief History of Marlboro
Marlboro, also called "New Marlborough" prior to 1800, was first granted a charter from the Crown of England in 1751. Since no settlement took place, that charter was forfeited and a second charter was granted in 1761.
Based on the charter of 1761, the township was surveyed in 1762 with the creation of 64 equal divisions or "rights" excepting 4 lots in the center of town. A copy of this original plan may be seen at the Town Clerk's office.
Marlboro's first settlers came in the spring of 1763. By 1799 there were 313 "scholars", ages 4-18, attending school in 7 districts. The town's population peaked in 1820 to almost 1300, but declined in the following decades in response to the economy and westward migration. In recent years the population has steadily increased. The year 2000 census records a population of 978.
The first Congregational Church was built in 1778 on what we call Town Hill, referred to then as Meetinghouse Hill. In 1820 a second church was built near the first, which by then was in disrepair. In 1822 the inhabitants voted to build a Town House at the southwest corner of the "NEW Meetinghouse Common" and that was done, using timbers and boards from the first building.
These two buildings, the Meeting House and the Town House, were moved down the hill, probably between 1836 and 1844. The Meeting House burned in 1931 and was rebuilt. The Town House was placed at the east side of the village center, remaining there until 1966 when it was moved across the road to its present location.
The Whetstone Inn was built by Deacon Jonas Whitney who came to Marlboro about 1773, the year he married. Town records show that a "legal Town Meeting was held at the house of Jonas Whitney Innholder (sic) in the Township of New Marlboro (sic) Sept. 26, 1775."
As Marlboro was a half shire town of the County of Windham in the early days, courts were held alternately with Westminster, and during a time the Inn was used as a courthouse. At various other periods of its history the Inn has served as a tavern, post office, dance hall and sometime Congregationalist Meetinghouse. It is presently known as the Whetstone Inn.
The Marlboro Meeting House, as previously noted, was rebuilt after fire destroyed it in 1931. It is a near replica of the 1820 church and remains a Congregationalist Meeting House with regular services during the summer months and occasional services during the remainder of the year, an outstanding annual event is the Christmas Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols. On weekdays during the winter and spring it now houses the Meeting House School for children younger than school age.
The Marlboro common finally took the shape chosen by townspeople in numerous studies and discussions, culminating in the building of the Town Office in 1969, and enlarged in 1999. The new structure provides space for the Town Clerk's office and the Post Office.
Today the common is a harmonious blend of the Whetstone Inn, the Meeting House, the Town Office and Post Office, and the Town House, all facing a view of the distant mountains.
Over the years, many industries and activities have been based in the center of Marlboro village. The following list is incomplete, but at various times there could be found: two inns, a brick schoolhouse, high school classes in the Meeting House, a carpenter shop, store(s), an ashery, a tan house, shoemaker(s), a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright shop, a wagon maker, a post office, parsonage(s), a doctor in residence, a chair factory, a town pound and in recent years, a museum of the historical society.
Recent years have seen the development of a few businesses and cultural enterprises beyond the center of town. Marlboro College was founded in l947. The Marlboro Music Festival, organized in 1951 has its headquarters here on the grounds of Marlboro College. In 1954 one room school houses were finally abandoned with the construction of the Marlboro Elementary School on Route 9. There are no heavy industries and Marlboro today still retains the rural character it had in its founding in 1763.
Comments, Questions, Offers to Help
Meetings of the Board are open to the public. The Board meets on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM, but call Forrest Holzapfel ahead of time to be sure of the time and place.
We welcome suggestions about future programs. We need new ideas and we need help with all our activities, including volunteers to welcome visitors to Newton House in the summer. There is also much work to be done in the herb garden. Call any one of the persons listed under Officers. If you haven't had your house photographed for Forrest Holzapfel's "Turn of the Century" project, give him a call at 258-2568.
For more information, contact Forrest Holzapfel.back to Groups
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