The Vermont Village Greens Initiative Highlights the History of Vermont's Public Spaces

Within my past couple of weeks as the Village Greens Intern, I’ve learned a great deal about the people, the history, and the culture that makes Vermont such a unique place. So far, most of my work has entailed thorough delving into historical town meeting records, and reading first-hand accounts of pastors and ministers that presided over the community for a given period of time. 

Although this process may seem tedious and uninteresting, I really respect the perspective-shift that this work forces me to adopt. As I continue to read more and more of these reports, I’m really starting to understand how different life in antiquity was compared to what it is now, even in a place where vestigial remnants of our past culture have been preserved in our current “way of life.” Some of my favorite reports come from the 1800’s, roughly 100+ years after most Vermont towns were chartered. Often, these reports contain the hilarious comings and goings, settlements, and transactions of the village people. In special cases, these records reflected special recreational installments in the town. One of my favorite examples of this, is an entry in the 1920 Shelburne, Vermont town record, which documented the presence of a “watering hole” that was installed in front of the Pierson Library. This watering hole froze over in the winter, and served as a skating rink for the children of the town. 

One of the other aspects I love about this internship so far, is the virtue of the work I’m doing. Very little people today are lucky enough to be employed in a job that requires you to enjoy the scenic back roads of Vermont, and I’m very thankful to be one of the “lucky ones.” Driving to the greens is one of my favorite parts of my job, because I get to go to places that I’ve never heard of before, and explore a common theme that runs through all of them. Generally speaking, even though all Vermont village greens were adapted from areas previously used as meetinghouse land- that is often the only characteristic they have in common. So far, the greens that I’ve visited have had varied greatly. They differ in shape, total area, tree composition, presence of paths, presence of recreational features, and location within the town. I’ve seen greens (such as the green of Shelburne, Vermont) that is a triangular patch of land about 25,000 ft2 in total area with no established paths and limited seating, vs. completely different greens (like the green in Bristol, Vermont) that are almost 70,000 ft2 and rectangular in shape, with established concrete paths, a gazebo, and a fountain… Suffice to say, each and every one of our greens are unique in their own way, which is a testament to why it’s important to save these valuable aspects of our heritage and culture. 

 In closing, all I can say- is that I’m very thankful to be involved as a part of this important process to bring attention to our threatened village greens. I believe that this is important and groundbreaking work, that will require a lot of attention in the coming years, and I am happy to help the beginning of the restoration get to it’s feet! 

Author: Amie Schiller, UCF Intern

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