Nonprofit news and notes: Westminster Historical Society discovers treasures


WESTMINSTER >> Following the death of Vermont Congressman William Czar Bradley in 1867, many of the family's personal belongings were bundled up and stored in Bradley's law office. There they lay undisturbed until July 4, 2014, when members of the Westminster Historical Society took inventory.

Alice Caggiano, Racheal Scott, Richard Michelman, and Barbara Taylor opened boxes and trunks, and realized they had found treasure--clothing and personal items from one of Westminster's most important families, dating back to the early 1800s.

"It was sad, it was joyful, and educational," Caggiano said. "We looked at the fine stitching and construction. All the clothes were stitched completely by hand, even the heavy wool trousers and cape, which we weren't able to keep. The mice loved them. We looked at the buttons, lace, and other decorative touches and how the linings were put together. We put our hands in the pockets. The men's trousers were an education, trying to figure out which flap folded where and when, first or second or last. I can't tell you how enthralled I was, being able to move back 150 years to handle the clothes that were most likely worn by William Czar and Sarah Bradley and their children ..."

Bradley, the son of U.S. Senator Stephen Rowe Bradley, served in Congress during the War of 1812, and was later in charge of surveying the border between Canada and the United States. He returned to Congress in the 1820s and was a friend of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. The rest of his long life was spent practicing law in his native Westminster, in Brattleboro, and at the county court in Newfane, where a large portrait of him hangs. His law office, next door to his home, was locked and left untouched following his death, and has been described as 'Westminster's time capsule.'

Bradley's wife Sarah was the daughter of U.S. Congressman and Revolutionary War veteran Mark Richards. She was proud of having met George Washington in her childhood. According to Scott, the contents of the trunk reveal that Sarah was a master seamstress. Along with clothing, Sarah's sewing bird, needles for knitting, half done work, some exquisite embroidery baskets of sewing odds and ends, paper patterns for embroidery and an overstuffed wallet full of poems, recipes, newspaper clippings, a lock of baby hair, a train pass between Westminster and Brattleboro from the 1850s, create a picture of a frugal, creative, mathematically-minded and family-oriented woman.

Sarah's embroidery, sewing kit, and the contents of her wallet are on display at the Westminster Historical Society Museum, located on the upper floor of the Westminster Town Hall. Visitors will also be able to see one of William Czar Bradley's vests, the left lapel worn rough from his habit of rubbing and gripping it as he spoke in court. The display will include a slide show of items not yet ready for display, and some that were in such bad condition that they had to be discarded. Looking down on the display is a newly-acquired oil painting of Reverend Sylvester Sage, long-time minister in Westminster during the Bradleys' lifetime; he was the minister who married them in 1802.

Special Columbus Day Weekend hours for the Westminster Historical Society Museum are Oct. 8 and 9, 2 to 4 p.m. For more information call Pat Haas at 802-387-5778 or Ruth Grandy at 802-722-4772.

Sustainable home tour

BRATTLEBORO >> On Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Sustainable Energy Outreach Network will host its First Annual Sustainable Home Tour featuring seven homes in Windham County.

These high performance homes have given consideration to energy efficiency, durability, indoor air quality, local materials and renewable energy. The homes represent new construction, additions, and deep energy retrofits. A member of the construction team will be at each residence to answer questions about construction processes and products relating to what makes for a truly "green home.

Homes are located in Guilford, Brattleboro, West Dummerston, Putney, and Saxtons River.

The tour is self-guided and open to the public. Home Tour Guide booklets will be available at each location and include a map to all sites, information about each home, construction standards that were met, and a glossary to assist people in learning the language of high performance construction. This is an opportunity to ask "everything you wanted to know about high performance homes, but were afraid to ask." Homeowners contemplating renovations, prospective home buyers, realtors, appraisers, home inspectors, and students of building trades and environmental science are particularly encouraged to participate in the tour and benefit from "hands on" learning.

Homes on the tour include a pre-fabricated home built by Unity Homes (Xyla model), a net-zero energy home that won the Vermont Green Building Network "Going Green" award, a VERMOD home – the first net-zero energy home affordable to low income homebuyers, and a home that's on the National Historic Registry.

This tour will not only feature high performance homes but the companies and contractors who build to these standards. The Southeastern Vermont Region has a rich history of sustainable energy innovation. This tour is evidence of the emerging Green Building Cluster that the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies has advanced through their Ecovation initiative of which SEON is an active participant.

Tickets may be purchased in advance by noon on Oct. 14 either online or at one of these locations: Village Square Booksellers (Bellows Falls); Friends of the Sun (Brattleboro); Everyone's Books (Brattleboro). Advance tickets $12 or 2/$20; tickets at the door $15 or 2/$25.

Go to to gain an overview of each home, location of homes, and online ticket information.

Quality of life facilitator training

BRATTLEBORO >> On Monday, Oct. 17 and 24 and Nov. 7, from 6 to 9 p.m., Brattleboro Area Hospice will host volunteer quality of life facilitator training with Taking Steps Brattleboro. The training will take place at Brattleboro Area Hospice, 191 Canal St.

This is the required three-session training to become a volunteer for facilitating advance care planning and quality of life discussions in the community. There is an online prerequisite course before the training. Application and Interview required. Three more students are needed.

Volunteers learn the Respecting Choices gold standard method of advance care planning. Visit Respecting for more information.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Joanna Rueter, Instructor and Coordinator, Taking Steps Brattleboro at 802-257-0775, ext. 101, or


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