SAM Seeks Additional Funding to Sustain Community History Mission: An Open Letter

The Saint Albans Museum is seeking annual funding from the Town of St. Albans. Please see below for an open letter from SAM’s Board of Trustees – as well as letters of support from community members Louise Haynes, Don Poirier, Sally Larner & Leon Berthiaume – regarding Article 8. You can also read comments from Selectboad candidate Jessica Frost. View the 2019 Town of St. Albans Annual Meeting Warning here.

SAM made the same request to the City of St. Albans, which has included annual funding for the Museum in their 2019 budget proposal.

SAM Co-President Charlie Moore and Executive Director Alex Lehning recently appeared on Northwest Access Television with David McWilliams to explain Article 8 – watch online.

Richard Cowperthwait interviewed City Mayor Tim Smith, Town Selectboard Chair Bill Nihan, Town Manager Carrie Johnson, and Town Director of Public Works Alan Mashtare on “For the Record” on February 6, which included a positive discussion of Article 8 – watch online.

SAM Seeks Sustainable Support
On behalf of the Saint Albans Museum (SAM), we are writing to encourage the residents of the Town of St. Albans to vote “YES” on Article 8 – to allocate $15,000 of annual funding to the Museum for a period of 5 years.

This additional financial support from the Town, along with the same amount from the City, is necessary for SAM to sustain our mission of preserving and sharing community history. Despite the Museum’s expanded fundraising efforts, our expenses have increased and continue to outpace revenue. For many years, SAM relied on individual major gifts to “close the gap” in our budget, but that is no longer sufficient. To achieve lasting sustainability, we must reach beyond our current membership. We are asking the greater St. Albans community for support, so that we can continue to provide vital programs and maintain our historic building (constructed in 1861).

The Museum has embraced a broader role as an educational and cultural leader in our area, increasing our engagement and services to reflect those priorities. As a non-profit organization, SAM is a full partner in activities that strengthen St. Albans as a special place to live, work, study, and play. Each year, we welcome thousands of students, families, residents, and visitors through our doors. SAM is:

– a gathering place for educational, cultural, and social events
– a source of research materials for students and the community
– a center for family-friendly activities, including the Haunted Museum and Kids Night
– a partner in community events, such as the Maple Festival, Festival of Trees, and Last Night
– a member of important local initiatives, including the Taylor Park Planning Committee and Vermont Reads
– a steward of our common heritage and the stories that define us

Our 2018 season was an exciting one. The sword of Capt. George Conger, hero of the St. Albans Raid, was located and acquired after being lost for over a decade. We profiled St. Mary’s school, featured a display of local women artists, and opened the new Farming Franklin County exhibit, which highlights the rich heritage of our regional agriculture (ex: maple and dairy). The Museum, working with numerous community partners, developed and implemented a new pilot STEM program entitled “Lake Lessons,” a series of enrichment activities on the history and ecology of Lake Champlain. Over 500 students and educators participated in this hands-on workshop, held over 5 days at St. Albans Bay Park. Over the past two years, SAM hosted field trips or participated in on-campus programs with 13 area schools and educational centers, including Saint Albans Town Educational Center, Saint Albans City School, and Bellows Free Academy.

Our plans for 2019 include an oral history project about local farms and farming families, and as well as veterans of the railroad industry. In addition, new displays on the 100th anniversary of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery and the American Legion are planned, as well as updates to the Central Vermont Railway room. We are also developing a new exhibit focused on the exceptional connections between St. Albans and the “Band of Brothers” – the 101st Airborne Division – in WWII.

A successful vote on Article 8 will ensure sustainable funding, allowing us to further contribute to the vitality of our community. SAM belongs to all of us who call greater St. Albans “home” – which is why we are asking for your support, and your vote.

The Board of Trustees & Staff of the Saint Albans Museum

The Saint Albans Museum – A Treasure to Discover and Support
This past year, I had the opportunity to connect with the Saint Albans Museum as they worked towards developing a “Farming Franklin County” exhibit.  It was a pleasure to meet so many wonderful volunteers and a dedicated Executive Director, Alex Lehning.  There were countless hours put in preparing a room, gathering materials, reproducing information and soliciting items to display.  It was exciting to see work come together and the exhibit open in June 2018.  Today, they are working with us to capture some of the key highlights of the St. Albans Cooperative as we celebrate 100 years and do a celebration in 2019.  

Visiting SAM, seeing the volunteers in action gave me a greater appreciation of their efforts to preserve, create and share our history with others.  I learned that the Museum is a valuable asset to our Franklin County Community providing various programs, educational opportunities and social events that connect our history with the present. 

The Museum has many dedicated exhibits and artifacts to discover and for us to be reminded of the treasures in our community that are part of our history and shaped our communities. 

As with any treasure – we need to protect it and find the means to share the story for future generations to appreciate. 

Consider becoming a member of the Museum, signing up to volunteer, or stop by and see the wonderful exhibits during the summer season. As the Museum continues to plan for the future, they need your financial support to fulfill their mission.  

Leon Berthiaume
St. Albans Cooperative Creamery

From a teacher’s point of view, the St. Albans Museum (SAM) is a treasure trove of opportunities for our citizenry of all ages to add to their knowledge of the history of St. Albans City and Town.  Even the most well-informed locals find artifacts and their stories to add to their familiarity with our area.  Not only can a visitor see sundry artifacts from our history, but also read well-written captions describing these treasures from numerous topics such as the railroad, area agriculture, the Smith family, military connections, former businesses, and education.

For our elementary and high school teachers and students, SAM offers the opportunity to explore a variety of topics in our Research Room, and to engage in the programs organized and presented by SAM and its partners both at the Museum and in the community. “Lake Lessons,” a new pilot STEM program, attracted 500+ students to participate in learning about the ecology and history of Lake Champlain.  Kids’ Night at the Museum and the Haunted House are family-friendly in-house activities.

In the Classroom Exhibit, there are two slates, one still with its “cloth”eraser, used by students in the 1800s and early 1900s.  It was my station during one of the many field trips. As I was explaining to the students how these slates were used to practice penmanship and arithmetic, one student was quick to comment that he preferred today’s tablets to the slates.  That was an aha moment for the class!

SAM’s work requires funding and you can help the many volunteers who labor to keep the exhibits and programs vital to our community available to us.  Please vote to support the Town’s financial commitment to the Museum by voting yes on Article 8 on Town Meeting Day in March.

-Louise Haynes
Retired BFA Teacher & SAM Volunteer

A Diamond in the Rough
Have you visited our “Diamond in the Rough” in St. Albans? Many folks have found it and enjoyed it. I am one of them, and discovered many interesting facts about St. Albans history.

I invite you and your friends to the explore the SAINT ALBANS MUSEUM, located on Church Street. Visit the many rooms which contain some of the highlights of our local history. You will find information on the Smith family, local schools, agriculture and medicine, as well as a railroad room showing the history of the Central Vermont Railway (and if you’re lucky, a chance to talk to volunteer Jim Murphy about the “Rail City.”

Which reminds me, the Museum also has programs in the Bliss Room, located on the top floor, throughout the year. These activities are for all ages and interests, including the younger generation. My favorite is Kids Night where students and little ones can play, learn, and have dinner. They also have guest speakers and concerts, such as their Christmas show featuring the Carol Ann Jones Quartet.

I haven’t even mentioned all of the attractions the Museum offers. It is housed in a school and is operated by volunteers and Alex Lehning, who is the Executive Director. The Museum depends on donations to maintain its operations. I am writing in support of funding from St. Albans Town (with a Yes Vote on Article 8), as well as all who support this “Diamond in the Rough” waiting to be discovered here in our community.

-Donald Poirier

Please Vote Yes on Article 8 on March 5

The Saint Albans Museum is a wonderful place to look, learn, and connect with our local history.  How much will Article 8 cost you? 

Using the grand list figure on which our 2018/19 tax bills were based, the cost for a family owning a $200,000 home came to $3.20.

Your YES vote will help preserve our traditions. 

-Sarah Larner

Yes on 8
St. Albans is fortunate to have so many community assets. We are situated on the shores of Lake Champlain. The outdoor playgrounds of Hard’ack and the Rail Trail are in our backyard. We are close to the mountains, beautiful state parks, as well as to Burlington, Montreal and the revitalized St. Albans City. The St. Albans Museum, another gem of our community, contains the artifacts of the Town and City’s milestones of development. It memorializes our place in history and is a way for young and old to explore their sense of place. On your ballot, you have the option to join me in voting to increase the Town’s contribution to our museum to $15,000 per year, matching the City’s contribution.”

– Jessica Frost, “Asking for Votes of St. Albans Residents,” (February 28, 2019 in St. Albans Messenger)