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Bixby Memorial Free Library + CDI Digitize Images of Vergennes (Vt.)

Published: May 05, 2011 by Chris Burns

Photographs of Vergennes (Vt.)

The UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives, in collaboration with the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes is pleased to announce the launch of the Photographs of Vergennes (Vt.) collection.

A Collaboration

The collection contains 788 photographs of Vergennes, Vermont from the special collections of the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes. Drawing from the library’s vast holdings of historical material, the Center for Digital Initiatives worked with student and Ferrisburgh resident Elias Baldwin to scan four boxes of 35mm slides from the Bixby. The resulting images make up Photographs of Vergennes, Vermont, an online collection documenting daily life in Vergennes from 1866 to 1988.

The Little City

He may not have stayed very long, but Commodore Thomas MacDonough left quite an impression on the little city of Vergennes. During the winter of 1813-14, he oversaw the building of several gunboats down by the waterfall, and in the fall sailed his little fleet down Otter Creek to miraculously defeat the British navy at the Battle of Plattsburg on September 11. One of his boats launched just forty days after its timber was cut from a nearby forest.

Vergennes residents had not lost any pride in this by 1914, when they threw a huge celebration in honor of the Commodore. Two forty-foot arches were built at either end of Main Street, and from every building in between hung banners and flags. At the ensuing parade, hundreds of spectators lined the city streets. After the parade one of the floats, a replica of MacDonough’s flagship Saratoga sat marooned on Water Street by the old Baptist Church. A photographer walking by captured the little boat, seemingly run aground on the sidewalk.

Photographs of Vergennes (Vt.) gives new life to many unique and rare images and users can easily search and browse images on the CDI's site. Parades, buildings, people, scenery, businesses, and industry make up a large portion of the collection, along with 145 stunning color photographs from the traumatic Vergennes Fire of 1958. Log on and see why Vermont’s oldest city has such pride in its history, and how perhaps Commodore MacDonough’s only mistake was not enjoying the Little City for longer.