19th Century Desk Restored by SAM Volunteers for new display

Approximately 40 years ago, Victor Burbo (who lived in the Milton area at the time) stopped at the local dump to dispose of some rubbish when he spotted an antique desk. Thinking he might be able to use it for something, he decided to gather up all the parts – as it was broken into multiple pieces. While attempting to clean it, Victor realized that the desk was signed by its maker: Joseph Breen, St. Albans, VT 1875. Recognizing that he had in fact rescued a part of local history, he decided to store it – and for forty years the desk remained up in the loft of his barn.


In the fall of 2019, Victor and his wife Deborah made the decision to donate the desk to the Saint Albans Museum. Collections Committee volunteers Richard and Steve traveled to their barn in Milton, carefully removed it, and brought it to the museum. After an initial assessment, the slow process of reconstruction and restoration by those same volunteers began. After all these years, we are glad the desk is now back in the town of its origin and returned to its former glory. It appears to be a clerk’s desk with many pigeon holes to store important papers, and a slanted writing top to facilitate writing with ink.

Now the Saint Albans Museum needs your help – we have very few historical records about Joseph Breen, and know little more than that he worked as a cabinet maker in St. Albans during the 1870s.

Can you assist SAM in telling this story? Perhaps you are a relative of Breen – wouldn’t be great to be able to visit something your family crafted years and years ago? Please contact the Museum if you can provide any additional information. We will continue to publish updates as we learn more.                                                

– Richard Stahl, SAM Volunteer