The Shelburne Museum is a little unusual. Is it an Open Air museum of historic buildings and machines or is it an Art Gallery? The answer is both. The museum was founded by Electra Havemeyer Webb(1888-1960), who was a dedicated collector of American folk art. She founded the Shelburne Museum in 1947 as a gallery for her art and she came up with the idea of displaying that art in 18th and 19th century buildings relocated from across New England and New York state. She obtained 20 historic structures for the museum, not just buildings but also a covered bridge and a former lake Champlain steam ship. There are now 39 exhibition buildings and the exhibits include Impressionist paintings, American paintings, folk art, quilts, textiles, decorative arts and furniture.
Stencil House, Prentis House & General Store
Walking around the grounds of Shelburne Museum it looks like an Open Air Museum, but when you go inside you realise that it is a little different. The 1804 Stencil House came from a farm in Columbus, New York. Inside it you find rare 19th-century painted stencils. The 1773 Prentis House from Hadley, Massachusetts is typical of the New England saltbox style from the Colonial period. It houses a display of high-style 17th and 18th century furnishings. The General Store was constructed in 1840 in Shelburne, originally operating as the village post office. It displays a wide range of essentials that would be found in a late 19th century general store.
The Dutton House was in 1950 the first historic dwelling brought to Museum. It came from Cavendish, Vermont where it was built in 1782 by Salmon Dutton. It was used as a family home and at the same time for various commercial ventures. Originally a saltbox house, Salmon Dutton’s descendants extended the house by adding wings. It is furnished to portray the home of a New England entrepreneur and his family in the 1820s.
Locomotive No 220 and Private Rail Car Grand Isle
Locomotive No 220 is a 4-6-0 that spent its working life pulling freight and passenger trains across Vermont. It also pulled special trains carrying presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower. It retired from service in 1956. Coupled to it is the private rail car Grand Isle which was used by the governor of Vermont. It was purchased for the Museum in 1960.
Colchester Reef Lighthouse
The Colchester Reef Lighthouse was built in 1871 to mark three reefs in Lake Chanplain between Vermont and New York. By 1952 the lighthouse had been abandoned and so it was dismantled and re-constructed at the Museum close to the SS Ticonderoga. Inside it visitors can experience life on the lake in the 19th century and learn about the history of Lake Champlain.
The Apothecary Shop was constructed by the museum in 1959 as an extension to the General Store. It is filled with objects that were salvaged from New England pharmacies that closed in the early 20th century. The main room, shown here, displays dried herbs, spices, drugs, patent medicines, medical equipment and cosmetics all stored as they would have been in the late 19th century. The compounding room shows the equipment then used to prepare drugs including a brick hearth, copper distilleries, and percolaters.
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The SS Ticonderoga was built in 1906 at the Shelburne Shipyard to provide a passenger, livestock and freight service on Lake Champlain. She initially served the north - south route between Westport, NY and St Albans, Vermont. In her later career she became an excursion boat, continuing in service until 1953. She was saved form the scrap heap in 1955 when Electra Havemeyer Webb was persuaded to to buy her for the Shelburne Museum. Although the Shelburne saved her, sadly this magnificent steam side-paddlewheeler is now kept on dry land. Click Tab 2 to see the galley (or kitchen) of the Ticonderoga.
Round Barn & Carousel
The Round Barn is where you will start and end your visit. It serves as the visitor centre and provides gallery space for special exhibitions. The barn came from East Passumpsic in Vermont where it was built in 1901. On the right of the picture is an operating vintage carousel. Out of shot just to the right is the Circus Building which houses a display of circus artefacts.
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