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'Manchester,' the book, honors the town's 250th
By Zeke Wright   - 07/03/2011

Bennington Banner

More Info on This Book: Manchester

Sunday July 3, 2011
MANCHESTER -- The history of Manchester is the focus in the latest of Arcadia Publishing's series "Images of America."

"Manchester," due out July 25 and coinciding with the town's 250th anniversary, features more than 200 vintage images culled from the Manchester Historical Society archives, housed in the Mark Skinner Library.

That library's namesake, Mark Skinner, is one of many local notables included in the forthcoming title. So too are past industry barons and Mary Todd Lincoln, who visited the Equinox with her two sons during the Civil War. Son Robert Todd Lincoln would later build his Georgian Revival mansion, now the Hildene estate, in Manchester in 1905.

"Manchester" focuses especially on history between the years 1860-1940, according to Judith A. Harwood, curator of the historical society. Harwood, along with fellow historical society members Frederica Templeton, Susanne Washburn, and William C. Badger, spent six months combing through the archives selecting material for the book.

Their work was made easier by the previous organization of archival photographs by late former curator Mary Bort, who headed the historical society for more 25 years.

"I said, ‘Let's not reinvent anything,'" said Harwood. Historical society volunteers chose several topics to work with and divided the chapters based upon the groupings previously established by Bort.

Separate chapters cover the village, center, and the depot; houses of worship; schools; clubs and organizations; businesses and industries; and noteworthy people.

"(Readers) will find out about different parts of town, the different villages," said Harwood. "People will learn about the trains. ... They'll also learn about some of the early people in Manchester."

During the early days of the town's settlement, for instance, Harwood said that residents assumed a variety of roles out of necessity due to a sparse population at the time. "There were so few early people, that people were the postmaster (and) the Manchester Journal publisher, (and) they may have been a dentist for a year," she said.

The cover of "Manchester," a 1921 advertising photograph welcoming visitors to town, features Harwood's own grandparents and mother, Laura Jean Lathrop, then a young girl.

"Manchester" maps out the historical footprint of today's community, delineating between the village and its "commodious cottages," the manufacturing center previously known as Factory Point and now known as Manchester Center, and the depot area anchored by its all-important railway connection.

Harwood said that the book would appeal to a diverse crowd ranging from those who have long studied local history to the young children discovering it in their classrooms today.

"Anybody interested in Manchester, the history of Manchester, be they year-round residents or summer residents," said Harwood, describing the book's audience. She said that the Manchester school system taught local history in the third grade.

"These kids just sit there and they're fascinated because it really happened here," she said. "So that's one thing the book will do too."

The town of Manchester celebrates their 250th anniversary with a slate of activities in August.

Through the month of August at the Southern Vermont Arts Center, the Manchester Historical Society will display a 15-piece exhibit of additional photos and documents from their archives, not seen in the new release.

"Manchester" becomes available July 25 at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or 888-313-2665.

Contact Zeke Wright at ewright@benningtonbanner.com.

Buy It Now: Manchester $21.99

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