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Barton Social Capital
SchoolsIn the early 1900's, the Barton Development Association attested that Barton High School ranked eighth among all high schools, public and private, in Vermont. The history of the schools in Barton certainly illustrates the importance of them to the townspeople.
In the Village of Orleans, the first school was built in 1832 on the site where Masons Sunoco Station is located (as of 1970). It was a one story, one room building with three tiers of seats on each side of the room for the students. It was also used as a church, since there was no other church building in town. Twenty-three years later, it was moved across the street and ceased to be used. Later it was cut into two sections and used as dwellings. In 1855, a second school was built on the spot where Bensons Market is now located. It also served as a church and was the center of community life. A third school was constructed in 1873 on land where the Federated Church is now. It was two stories, the second one used as a ballroom for entertainment. In 1892, a third teacher was added to the staff, and a few years later, a fourth was added, making it necessary to move the social functions to the Valley House. In the early 1890's, when more space was needed, seven school meetings were called for to raise the $1,200 to add six additional rooms to the school. During this period, the high school consisted of one room on the second floor. Another remodeling and addition of a third floor was made in 1912. This building was used until 1967. In 1922, the cornerstone for a new high school was laid because of overcrowding in previous years. By March 1923, this Orleans High School was opened. In the early 1960's a lack of space and need for expanded curriculum created the organization of District No.10, to help facilitate the union of town high schools. Barton dropped out of the district. Another unsuccessful attempt occurred. Finally in 1964, union No.24 was organized and Lake Region High School was opened on September 11, 1967. The former Orleans High School was remodeled and used for the village's grade school. (Orleans 1820-1970)
Presently there are four schools in Barton town; Barton Graded School, a public elementary school; St. Pauls Elementary School, a private parochial school; Orleans Elementary School, a public K-8 school; and Lake Region Union High School, the high school for Barton and surrounding communities. The mascot for the high school is the Rangers. In 1985-86, the enrollment at the high school was 393. The dropout rate was 3.7% in 1982 and 4.5% in 1992. Statistics from 1986-87 show that 38.1% of high school graduates from Lake Region Union High School continued formal education.
In Barton Village the first Catholic Masses were held in private homes beginning in about 1858. The Congregational Church building was bought that year and renamed the Conversion of St. Paul. In 1893, St. Paul's Parish was established in the Diocese of Burlington and received its first resident pastor, Father Joseph Turcot. He established a parochial school (opened in 1896 on May Pond Road, enrollment has vacillated over the years, but, in 1993, totaled 93), and built a new church which was finished on May 24, 1903. Bishop John Michaud blessed the new church, whose membership included 60 families and an average Sunday attendance of 300 people. Father Turcot left St. Paul's in 1906 for Graniteville. He died in 1924. He was replaced by Father Joseph Eugene Leblanc in December 1906. Leblanc contracted with the Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Nicolet, Quebec to teach at the parochial school in 1907. The windows of St. Paul's Church are almost 100 years old.
In May of 1911, the first Catholic Mass was said outside of private homes in Orleans in the old Souliere Block. (The Souliere Block was taken down in 1968 for the construction of Route 91) The E.L. Chandler Company donated land in 1912 on the western side of Orleans (on the road to Barton village) for the construction of a Catholic Church. In 1914, St. Cecile's Church was constructed and dedicated on this spot. The "Oliver Dunham" place on East Street of Orleans was acquired in 1930 and St. Theresa's Catholic Church was built there.
The Barton Landing Methodist Church was organized in 1847. The first meetings were held in the schoolhouse. In 1858, a plain building was constructed for a church and it was used until 1874 when it was sold to the Congregationalist Church. (The Congregationalists housed their church in this building until 1962, when it was destroyed by fire.) In 1874, a large church was built by the Methodists, and was used also as a community hall until the Opera House was built. Between the years 1943 and 1950 the Methodist and Congregationalists had a temporary union, on a year to year basis. In 1950 a permanent union was established and it became the Orleans Federated Church in 1959. The old Methodist church was razed and the spot became a parking lot.
An 1810 postal map shows Barton being served by the postal route that went north from Danville to Wheelock, Sheffield, Barton, Brownington, and Derby and then south again to Barton and diverging to go through Albany, Craftsbury, Greensboro, Hardwick, Walden, and Cabot. In the Village of Barton, the first post office was opened in 1806 and is still operating. People in the Barton Landing area originally could receive mail in Brownington or could cross paths with the postmaster near where the Orleans Country Club now stands. The first postmaster in Barton Landing around 1847, was Judge Samuel Willard who ran the post office at a site where the Jones Memorial Library now stands. The first appointed postmaster in Barton Landing was John Drew in 1850. The location of the post office for Barton Landing changed as frequently as the postmaster did, often from one store to the next. In 1904 the post office became international. For all the years except four between 1855 to 1913 the post office was housed in the drug store of Mr. Webster in the Webster Block on the east side of what is now Memorial Square. From 1914 to 1950 the post office was kept in the Albert Beede Store, also known as the Levaggi Block. A fire destroyed the building in 1950. A new building was constructed for the post office in 1969 on the site of the first church in the village across the street from where Judge Willard had his first office. (Orleans, 1820-1970)
The place of South Barton first got a post office in 1861, and in 1909 it borrowed the place-name Willoughby from the neighboring town of Westmore. Westmore had a post office in an inn at Willoughby Lake between the years of 1853 to 1872 and again between 1884 and 1904. Since it was the closest stop on the railroad to Lake Willoughby, the South Barton post office thought that the stop could be called Willoughby, however the railroad management curiously elected to call the stop Kimball, probably after the first settler of Barton, Asa Kimball. The post office was discontinued in 1947, and only the most detailed of state maps even show the Kimball name nowadays. Locally the hamlet has sometimes been known as Jacksville. (Swift)
The people of Barton Landing established a Library Association on December 31, 1872. There was a $2.00 membership fee and annual dues of $.50. For a while the building known as a post office and a shoe store was also used as the library. In 1896 the Library Association merged with a similar organization in the Village of Barton, but the union did not last. The Barton Landing Library reopened when cases were built into the upstairs hallway of what is now know as Utton's Store. Miss Ruth Marie Rogers was the librarian. The Book and Thimble Club took over responsibility for the library in 1912 and set it up over Hoyt's Store in the Post Office Block with Miss Ruth Richmond as the librarian from that date until 1944. In 1914 the library was moved to the second floor rooms above in the Central Savings Bank and Trust Company building, where it stayed until the Jones Memorial Library building was constructed and opened on January 2, 1950. Beginning in 1944 , Mrs. Gertrude Sylvester was the librarian for many years. (Orleans 1820-1970)
The Orleans Fire Company formed in 1915 with O.W. Locke as the first chief. From 1915-1944, F.J. Kinney was the chief. The first Fire Station in Orleans was set up in the Park View Garage. In 1929 the name changed to Orleans Fire Department. From 1944-50, M.E. Doe was the chief, and from 1950-1964, Paul Racine was the chief. The Department moved to Croteaus around 1952. For a number of years beginning in 1964, Emile Lapierre was the chief. Some of the larger fires include the C.B. Harding & Co. Tub Manufactory in 1916 (throwing 60 people out of work, many of whom moved elsewhere in search of work), the Frank Wright building in 1925, the Opera Hall in 1928, the Webster-Eastman building in 1939, the Veneer Mill in 1941, the Bray Wood Heel building in 1943, the Converse-Colton building in 1945, the Converse Company-Water St. building in 1947, the Ernest Rivard building in 1948, Dean's Store and the Post Office Block in 1950, and the Congregationalist Church in 1962. (Orleans, 1820-1970)
The Orleans Country Club was started by Mr. J.G. Turnbull, President of the Central Savings Bank and Trust Company and manufacturer of Green Mountain Ice Cream. In 1926, Mr. Turnbull developed a heart condition and having previously enjoyed the Barton Golf Club for golfing but being unable to continue the sport on its rough terrain, he sought more even ground where he could play. The Old County Fair Ground in Orleans became the site of the new golf course and clubhouse. Although the club experienced financial difficulties in its earlier years, it is now a thriving recreation spot. (Orleans 1820-1970)
The new Barton Golf Club was opened on the May family farm in 1991 and is currently being expanded from 9 to 18 holes. With the old pig barn and machine shed nicely renovated into a clubhouse, the course is a very popular spot with locals and visitors alike.
Community Buildings and Parks
An Opera Hall was built in 1905 in Orleans on a spot where three buildings had previously been destroyed by fire. In 1928 the Opera Hall was also taken by fire. At this same site, the Municipal Building was constructed in Barton Village. On its first floor there are the village offices. The second floor houses an auditorium. The third is occupied by the Masonic Order. (Orleans 1820-1970)
During the early years of Orleans, a building called the Valley House was the center of much activity and community events.
Barton Village owns and runs the Pageant Park, which has a campground, waterfront, beach house, grills, and sports facilities. This park has been the source of some conflict over the recent years as Ms. Lou Little, the caretaker for many summers, was going to be prohibited from keeping her Lab mixed dog with her through the summer at her campsite in 1993. Village trustees feared that the dog would bite someone resulting in a suit against the village. A second issue in 1993 lies over the granting of a variance from the village's ordinance against open containers of alcohol. The trustees (two of the three were married to one another, Mr. and Mrs. Meehan) were worried that family participation would be discouraged if open containers were allowed as they had been in the past. Later in the spring of 1993, the Meehans resigned from the select board. The Meehans have some notoriety because they ran for US President in the 1992 campaign.
Included in the Crystal Lake area is the Crystal Lake State Park, built around 1942 during WWII by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal Program designed in Vermont by back-to-the-landers from the 1920's and 30's. (This is the prototype of President Clinton's AmeriCorps program.) The CCC also built the road over the mountain ledges to the camps on the other side of the lake. There is a Crystal Lake Historical Society and a Crystal Lake Falls Historic Division. The latter was honored with Barton's first National Register Listing.
Barton is the site of the Orleans County Fair, held each August.
Last modified September 05 2013 01:58 PM