The Vermont State Visit

Written by: Carol Schwenk, Vermont State Regent
September 14, 2018

Following a week in the office, I departed for Burlington, Vermont on Friday morning to arrive in time for lunch with the State Regent Carol Schwenk, Vice Regent Edna Curtin and my page for the visit, Emalee Morris. Unfortunately a fog obscured my anticipated view of the mountains, but enough of the landscape was visible that I could understand why it is called the “Green Mountain State.” I was introduced to another Vermont treasure when we visited the Ben and Jerry Ice Cream Factory and sampled their product! It was a wonderful visit and left me vowing to return. 

- President General Ann Dillon

Vermont DAR celebrated its 125th anniversary last year and paused to reflect on its long and busy history.  One of its most visible and profound accomplishments was the 1934 purchase and conservation of the General John Strong Mansion, the federal style brick mansion of a Revolutionary War patriot. The effort to acquire this historic home and acreage on the shores of Lake Champlain in Addison, Vermont was spearheaded by a small committee, who used monies from the Reserve Fund for the down payment and secured a mortgage loan from the Addison County Trust Company. The idea behind this action was to establish a forest on the "wild" land, to be known as the Florence Gray Estey Memorial Forest DAR, honoring a distinguished Vermont Daughter who had died in January 1933. However, they proposed to reserve a strip of land 150 or 200 feet wide from the forestland to the road for a DAR park, stating, “Here all tourists entering or leaving the state would find a DAR welcome”. They also desired to make a State DAR Headquarters and Museum of the stately mansion because of its historic past, and wrote in the DAR Magazine “The Daughters of Vermont want to preserve all this as a ‘Just Memorial to Vermont's integrity, to our ancestors, and to the principles of freedom, justice and humanity for which they fought, bled and died.’”

The Vermont Daughters began the work to restore the mansion and open it to the public as a museum. On August 24, 1934, the birthday of Mrs. Estey, the State Forest DAR Reserve was dedicated and, each year since, the Vermont Daughters make the Pilgrimage to this site every August. One of our board of management meetings, called our annual Pilgrimage, is held on the grounds of the mansion to celebrate our ownership and curatorship of this historic treasure. This year we were so pleased to have our President General, Ann Turner Dillon as our honored guest.

As this was Mrs. Dillon’s first trip to the Green Mountain State, it was decided that after checking into the hotel and relaxing with lunch, an outing to Ben and Jerry’s seemed most appropriate. Unfortunately, the weather was ghastly, making the scenery hard to appreciate. However, spirits were revived with a tour of the manufacturing plant and a tasting of the sample of the day. Insider information: the flavor, “Americone”, was an instant favorite! In an effort to further expand the culinary adventure, a quick jaunt down the road to a cider mill was undertaken and freshly squeezed cider and still-dripping cider donuts were sampled.

Later that evening, several state officers were able to gather for an informal dinner with our President General, where everyone had a chance to get better acquainted and share their passion for DAR.

We arose early Saturday morning for the drive to Addison for our meeting. The weather was performing much better than the previous day and it was easy to appreciate the beauty of the Vermont countryside as we drove along. We began our sojourn in Addison with a tour of our historic home, followed by photos on the front steps.

The first order of business for our meeting was to greet our honored guests, President General Dillon and Vice President General April Butler Staley. We then recognized our American History essay winners with their reading of the essays and the presentation of their awards. State officer reports were delivered and Mrs. Dillon shared her thoughts with us while inspiring us to work together. A delicious al fresco buffet served by the Seth Warner-Rhoda Farrand Chapter was enjoyed by all.

The Vermont State Society was pleased to welcome guest pages from several nearby states, as well as those from as far away as Virginia and Texas. Their donation of time and talent greatly enhanced our gathering!

We were excited to conclude our meeting with entertainment entitled, “Vermont Musical Ladies” a program of period music sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council. The public was included in this portion of our day, to share our love of Vermont history.

It was a wonderful day of living our mission of historic preservation, education and patriotism while transacting business, experiencing inspiration, and enjoying fellowship.

As our treasured edifice serves as a historic touch point for Vermont DAR, state regent projects usually center on our ongoing preservation and restoration efforts. This administration’s state regent project has been to build the endowment fund for this historic landmark so that we may assist its financial operation and ensure its future viability and sustainability.

Vermont Daughters continue to "Soar Through Service to DAR."

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