The Railroad Room is dedicated to the story of the Central Vermont Railway which established its headquarters and manufacturing/maintenance facilities in St. Albans in 1860 – 1861. At one time the railway, whose founders were mostly from St. Albans, employed over 1,700 people in town. It became the largest railway in New England, providing service from the Champlain Valley to communities as far away as the Great Lakes area and from Canada to New York City. Visitors entering the room are transported into a 100-year old waiting room, complete with a ticket seller’s office and telegraphic equipment. The exhibit also contains a model of a 1923 roundhouse, one of two that existed in St. Albans, a model of a steam locomotive, railroad lanterns, and signaling equipment, photos of the railway founders, buildings, facilities and locomotives. It’s no wonder that St. Albans is called the “Rail City.”
In Vermont, from the very earliest days, nearly all able–bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to serve in the state militia. Over time some communities organized elite military units which fostered greater military spirit and helped to establish a military tradition. In St. Albans, a group called the Ransom Guards was formed in 1856. It was among the very first Vermont units to answer President Lincoln’s call to colors when the Civil War commenced. Later during the period 1895–1903, the National Guard was formed. The National Guard became one of our state and national defense systems and has since distinguished itself in all of our national emergencies. It is featured in many of our exhibits. The collection in the Military Room dates from the Revolutionary War, 1775 – 1783 through Desert Storm, 1991. It includes uniforms, weapons, paintings, sketches, maps, journals, and scrapbooks. The theme is “The Citizen Soldier” in honor of the Vermont men and women who volunteered or were called up from civilian life in the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and of whom we are justly proud.
SAINT ALBANS EXHIBIT
The Saint Albans Room (also known as the Diorama Room) is a good point from which to commence a tour of the Museum. It contains a diorama of the region which has been partially converted into a display featuring life in St. Albans during the 1860s. Included is the story of the St. Albans Raid of October 19, 1864. On that day, 21 Confederate raiders descended from Canada, robbed three banks (of a total of $208,000), and attempted to burn the town before fleeing on stolen horses, pursued by a posse of angry Vermonters. Photos and documents compliment these narratives. There is also an exhibit pertaining to the St. Albans Street Railway which served the area from 1900-1921, when it was closed because of the competition from the ever–increasing numbers of automobiles.
Dedicated to the memory of the Smith Family, and sponsored by the children of Timothy Dean Smith. We use this room to share the history of those who contributed greatly to the well–being and prosperity of St. Albans, and served their state and nation with great distinction. Included are two Vermont governors (and their families) with St. Albans roots: John Gregory Smith (1863-1865), and his son, Edward C. Smith (1898-1900). They were entrepreneurs, industrialist, civic leaders, and philanthropists. We also tell the stories of Lawrence Brainerd, Warren R. Austin, and Frank Lester Greene. Lawrence Brainerd was an entrepreneur, banker and abolitionist. He was also one of the founders of the Republican Party in Vermont and a United States Senator. His home was a way-station on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Warren Austin was a partner with his father and brother in St. Albans law firm, mayor of St. Albans (1909–1912), United States Senator for 15 years, and in 1946, the first United States Representative to the United Nations. Frank Lester Greene was born in St. Albans. Frank was only 13 years old when his father died and his schooling ended. Nevertheless, he had a distinguished career as the editor of the St. Albans Messenger, and in both houses of the United States Congress. Explore these narratives through paintings, sculptures, images, and other memorabilia. The room also contains an interesting, collection of china, some of which came from the Smith family homes, a parlor organ, a pocketwatch collection, and other household and personal goods.
STERLING WEED EXHIBIT
The Weed Imperial Orchestra was active from the 1930’s through 2005, and their founder and leader – Sterling Weed – was renowned throughout Vermont and New England for his talents as a bandleader, musician, and instructor. The exhibit honoring this local legend shares his incredible story through instruments, historic images and promotional materials, as well as other memorabilia. You can listen to music and interviews from Sterling Weed as well.
The room is also home to a display featuring vintage children’s toys and sporting equipment.
The Medical Room provides a compelling narrative which details history of local medicine and practitioners in Franklin County. Take a step back in time with our display of the country doctor’s office that inspired a Norman Rockwell painting, or discover variety of antique medical instruments, pharmacy bottles, and more. You can learn about the men and women who made helping others their life’s work, as well as the story of two local hospitals that merged to become leading regional medical center.
HISTORIC CLASSROOM EXHIBIT
The building which currently houses the St. Albans Museum was constructed in 1861, and operated as a school until the 1960s. As you walk through our historic classroom, you can easily imagine the generations of students and educators who spent the formative years of their lives studying, working, and playing in these rooms and halls.
More specifically, the room honors local teacher Miss Louella Kittell, who taught for 50 years throughout northern Vermont, including right here in the Museum, when it was operating as the Church Street School. Coincidentally, she was a 1912 graduate of the Grammar School. Miss Kittell retired in 1967.