Gram­mar School Moved With Oxen

Stanstead Journal - - STANSTEAD JOURNAL - Brown­ing­ton, VT

On Mon­day morn­ing, Au­gust 8, 20 teams of oxen were hitched to the 30 X 40 foot two story build­ing that served as the first se­condary school in Orleans County, to help pull it back up the road 1/3 mile to the site where it was built in 1823. The oxen team­sters in­cluded 4-H Club mem­bers from Brad­ford, Braintree, Ran­dolph and East Hard­wick, Ver­mont and North Haver­hill, New Hamp­shire as well as adults with work­ing teams. Spec­ta­tors were wel­come to come watch this re-en­act­ment of the way many build­ings were moved in the past. In fact, mov­ing build­ings from place to place was such a com­mon prac­tice that there are very few pic­tures or ac­counts on how they did it. But in the early days, oxen pro­vided the power. In mod­ern times, with util­ity lines and ma­ture trees lin­ing the roads, mov­ing a build­ing is a lot more com­pli­cated. Messier House Mov­ing from East Mont­pe­lier is man­ag­ing this move, which will meld the new meth­ods with the old. The build­ing will be up on wheeled car­riages, not rolling on logs, or slid on run­ners across icy roads or frozen lakes. There will be sup­ple­men­tal power to move the build­ing into the road, and then off the road to its new foun­da­tion. How­ever, 20 teams of oxen should be able to pull the build­ing on its 1/3 mile jour­ney up the Hin­man Set­tler Rd. The oxen gath­ered on Sun­day, Au­gust 7, at the Old Stone House Mu­seum , where there were ac­tiv­i­ties, an ex­hibit on oxen his­tory, and prac­tice hitch­ing the teams to­gether. The black­smith shop forged yoke hard­ware, in­clud­ing “jin­gle-bobs”, which link the chains from the teams ahead and be­hind to­gether. Af­ter the move, the jin­gle bobs used in this his­toric event were sold to ben­e­fit the con­tin­u­ing work of restor­ing and im­prov­ing the build­ing. Phase two of the project in­cludes build­ing a replica of the orig­i­nal bell tower, with stairs from the base­ment to the sec­ond floor, which will meet the fire code re­quire­ment of pro­vid­ing a sec­ond exit on the op­po­site side of the room. The porch will be re­placed on the back side, a lit­tle wider to ac­com­mo­date a hand­i­capped ramp. The Orleans County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety is con­tin­u­ing to raise money through do­na­tions and grants to bring the build­ing home and re­store it. Ma­jor fund­ing has come

from the Free­man Foun­da­tion through the Preser­va­tion Trust of Ver­mont and from the Ver­mont Di­vi­sion of His­toric Preser­va­tion, as well as Com­mu­nity Na­tional Bank, Pas­sump­sic Sav­ings Bank and North Coun­try Fed­eral Credit Union. With the re­turn of the Gram­mar School, the neigh­bor­hood, which is on the Na­tional Regis­ter of His­toric Places, will re­turn to the way it was dur­ing the time of Alexan­der Twi­light, the bril­liant and charis­matic head mas­ter, who in 1836 built the Old Stone House as a dor­mi­tory for the school. Alexan­der Twi­light was racially mixed, and is now known to have been the first per­son of African Amer­i­can her­itage to grad­u­ate from an Amer­i­can Col­lege and the first to be elected to pub­lic of­fice. Af­ter Twi­light’s death in 1857, the Orleans County Gram­mar School was moved from its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion to the mid­dle of Brown­ing­ton Vil­lage in 1869.

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