Detailed History of the Historic Site

The Triumph of a Public – Private Partnership Detail

August 3, 1923

“Beginning the next morning after Mr. Coolidge took the oath of office at Plymouth Notch, the people began to come.  Many stood and silently gazed at the Coolidge house, many wanted to get in.  As the years went by the crowds increased until during summers from 1923 to the end of Coolidge’s second term this village home was surrounded.

“There was nothing wrong with this: some of course were the idle and the curious, but most came because they had been intrigued and moved by the warm-hearted romantic story of what had taken place in this house on August 3, 1923.

“No there was nothing wrong with the crowds… but there was something decidedly wrong with the entrepreneurs who figured they could make some fast money out of the crowds.  In a short time, the lawns in front of the church across the road, and even the road itself were dotted by hucksters selling things… The scene soon resembled the dusty, scuffed-up atmosphere of a carnival or of some outworn European shrine.

“… [How] incongruous it was for the President of the United States, one of the most powerful men in America, unable to do a thing about these annoyances because the fakirs had settled their stands on church property or in the road which was town property.”  Vrest Orton, Calvin Coolidge’s Unique Vermont Inauguration, 1960.  Vrest Orton is an early chairman of the Vermont Historic Sites Commission.


January 5, 1933

Calvin Coolidge dies from a coronary thrombosis.  On January 7, after a funeral service at the Edwards Church in Northampton, Calvin Coolidge’s body is returned to his birthplace for burial.  Clarence Day provides this description:

He got up at seven as usual, and he and his wife had breakfast together. At half past eight he went to his office in the town. His old friend and partner was already there when he entered. They were both early risers.  They spoke with each other for a moment and then he went to his desk.

            He was not feeling quite well. He said nothing about it. He had no idea that this was his last day of life.

            There were a number of letters and other matters for him to go over and settle. He went to work methodically at them. He disliked to leave things undone. All his life he had attended to his duties, large or small, systematically.  He was a sound, seasoned New Englander of sixty, and he had accomplished a lot.

            By ten o’clock he had finished. He still wasn’t feeling any better. He said to his secretary, “Mr. Ross, I guess we’ll go to the house.”

            They motored back together through the streets and under the bare, spreading trees, till they came to the beeches and elms that surrounded his home. He had lived in half of a two-family house most of his life, but it had no grounds around it, and when he was fifty-eight he had moved; “so the doggies can have a place to play,”  he had said.

            His wife was out—she had gone down town on foot to do some shopping. He and his secretary went to the library. He toyed with a jigsaw puzzle a moment. They spoke of the partridge hunting they had had in October, and of the hay fever that had bothered him in July—a “pollen attack” he called it. He made little of it. He had been lucky—he had had very few illness.

            As they sat there talking he said he was thirsty. The cook and maid were at hand and so was Mr. Ross, but he didn’t like to be waited on—he went to the kitchen and got a glass of water himself. He heard the gardener in the cellar and he went down there to say something to him. The gardener was the last man he spoke to. When people asked him later what his employer had said he couldn’t remember. He told them that it was something about the house or the grounds, and that it had not seemed important—to him.

            Leaving the gardener this man went upstairs to his bedroom. He took off his coat and waistcoat to shave, but sank to the floor. He was dead.

The news spread through the town. Children on their way home from school stopped to look through the gates. A few policemen arrived. When reporters and camera men came the Chief of Police took them aside and asked them not to bother the family. He left one policeman on guard and everyone else went away.

            The flag on the schoolhouse had been lowered. Now, on all public buildings, other flags went to half-mast.  In town after town, and city after city, the flags fluttered down.

            The next day the guns began booming. For thousands of miles throughout the nation, and at its army posts over-seas, at half hour intervals all day long, cannon by cannon they spoke. And when evening came and the bugles had sounded retreat, there were last, long, slow salutes everywhere of forty-eight guns, one for each of the forty-eight States of his country.

The hotel in Northampton was crowded that night. Friends of his had arrived for the funeral, and there were many reporters. The reporters swapped stories of the days before he had retired. One time when he had been suddenly needed, they said, for some national conference, and when nobody knew where he was, he had been found down in the storeroom, fishing a pickle out of a jar with two fingers. He had liked homemade pickles and people had sent him quantities of them, but he never got any at table, they were all kept on shelves in the storeroom, because of the chance that cranks might send jars that were poisoned.

            Early in the morning the long special trains came rolling in. The President and his wife, the Vice-President and the Chief Justice, several Cabinet members, and committees of Senators and Congressmen got out of the sleeping cars from Washington and walked through the crowd at the station. Governors of near-by States and other officials arrived in their motors. They went to the Congregational Church and sat in its plain oak pews.

 The service was brief. There was no eulogy, no address of any kind. Two hymns were sung, parts of the Bible were read, and the young minister prayed. He rose, and gave the great in the land who stood before him his blessing.  They filed slowly out.

            The streets emptied as the visitors left. The motors and trains rolled away.

            When the town was alone with its own again, six sober-faced policemen lifted the coffin and carried it out to the street. Light rain was falling. Drops glistened on the coffin as it was placed in the hearse. A few motors fell in behind it, and the little procession moved off along the old country roads.

            In every village they went through, there were small troops of boy scouts and veterans of the great war, standing at attention in silence as the motors sped by. In the yards of factories and mills, workmen stood in groups, waiting. Men held their hats or caps to their hearts, women folded their hands. Farms and fields on the road had been tidied up, as a mark of respect, and at a place where carpenters were building a house they had cleared away the lumber and chips.

            The rain stopped for a while. The mists that had drifted low over the mountains gave place to blue sky.  White, straight birch trunks glistened, and ice began to melt in the sunshine. But as they drove on, deeper into the Green Mountain country, black clouds spread and rain fell again, harder. The red tail lights of the cars gleamed on the road in the wintry and dark afternoon.

            When the cars reached the end of the journey, the skies lightened palely a moment. The burying ground was outside the village where the dead man was born.  Generations of his ancestors had been laid to rest there, in graves on the hillside. The cars climbed the steep road and stopped. The family and a handful of friends got out and stood waiting.

            Across the road, in a rocky field, the men and women of the village had gathered. They were not the kind of people to intrude or crowd nearer, and they kept complete silence. The young minister said a few words as the coffin was lowered. A sudden storm of hail pelted down.

            The widow, who had tried to smile that morning coming out of the church, could no longer hold back her tears.

            The cars left. The bent shouldered sexton signaled to his helpers. They filled in the grave. Four country militiamen took up their positions on guard.  Snow fell that night on the hillside and the slopes of Salt Ash Mountain.

            The headstone that now marks the quiet spot bears no inscription but the name, Calvin Coolidge, the dates, and the President’s seal. Clarence Day, In the Green Mountain Country, Yale University Press, 1934.



Mr. Willis C. Belknap of Bellows Falls, VT, suggests that a permanent National Memorial be created to honor President Coolidge. Plymouth Notch itself should be that National Memorial, he says. John Garibaldi Sargent of Ludlow, VT, attorney general of the Coolidge cabinet, is chosen to lead that effort. The Coolidge Memorial Foundation is chartered. The main objective is to obtain title to buildings, restore them, and install proper safeguards for the village. There is to be a conscious effort to keep out commercialism and to protect the surrounding land.  Memberships are sold to raise funds for the organization. Blanche Brown Bryant is an important part of the organizing effort. The purpose is: “Let us preserve historic Plymouth, among the beautiful Green Mountains, as a shrine for the American people, symbolic of the source and simplicity of true greatness.” The death of Mr. Sargent is a blow from which this plan does not recover.



Vrest Orton, who later becomes chairman of the Vermont Historic Sites Commission, notes:  “Herbert Moor got himself elected to the Legislature especially to do something about Plymouth and urged the assembly to assume an obligation to the memory of Calvin Coolidge.  The town apparently was helpless or unwilling to clean up the unseemly conditions in this tiny Vermont village where exploitation and rank commercialization dominated the rural scene.  The State must act.

“The State acted in the legislative session of 1947 by creating a Vermont Historic Sites Commission and enjoining this instrumentality of the state government to ‘pay especial attention to Plymouth’ and the properties there associated with Calvin Coolidge.

“The first step was to call on Mrs. Coolidge who was then spending her summers in the Coolidge Homestead.  Earl W. Newton, the first chairman of the Commission, accompanied by John Clement went to Plymouth in August 1947 and spoke to Mrs. Coolidge, who was living in the Homestead.

“The next step by the Commission was to acquire the Wilder House, in which Victoria Josephine Moor, Calvin Coolidge’s mother had been born. By 1947 it had fallen into decay and was actually a ruin. To restore the neat, well-kept appearance of the village that prevailed during Mr. Coolidge’s boyhood, it was necessary to clean up this disgraceful eyesore. The same moribund condition prevailed in the Plymouth Notch Cemetery. … It was in deplorable condition. Stone walls had crumbled and bushes had grown up.  In order to see the gravestone of the President of the United States, one had to get over a stone wall and climb up a side hill.

“The Vermont Department of Forests and Parks reconstructed the Wilder House. The local Cemetery Association, after national publicity, cut the grass and chopped down bushes.

“All attempts by the Historic Sites Commission to acquire the birthplace of Calvin Coolidge and the Florence Cilley store failed and it remained ‘commercialized.’” Vrest Orton, Calvin Coolidge’s Unique Vermont Inauguration, 1960.


June 11, 1956

Aurora Pierce dies. She was housekeeper for the Coolidges for 48 years and lived at the Homestead until her death.  With her passing, the donation of the Homestead to the State of Vermont is now possible.


 June 16, 1956

“John and Florence Coolidge, having had the Homestead deeded over to them by Grace Goodhue Coolidge, presented this magnificent gift as well as all the furnishings, down to a small pin cushion on the bedroom bureau, that were in the house in 1923, to the State of Vermont. Through the professional assistance of Payson R. Webber, A.I.A., in Rutland, VT, there was an access arrangement to all the rooms of the first floor of the Coolidge Homestead.  By utilizing halls and corridors and glass partitions in front of doors, we were able to show the public each room of this simple Vermont house and to show each exactly as the way it looked on the night of August 3, 1923.” Vrest Orton, Calvin Coolidge’s Unique Vermont Inauguration, 1960.


August 3, 1957—Celebration to honor John, Florence T., and Grace Goodhue Coolidge for transferring ownership of the Coolidge Homestead and its contents to the State of Vermont. Front Row (l. to r.) John Coolidge, Governor of Vermont Joseph B. Johnson, and Lt. Gov. of Vermont Robert T. Stafford speaking. Former Vice President of the United States Henry A. Wallace is at the far right.


August 3, 1957—Celebration to honor John, Florence T., and Grace Goodhue Coolidge for transferring ownership of the Coolidge Homestead and its contents to the State of Vermont. John Coolidge (far right) with Vrest Orton chairman of the Vermont Board of Historic Sites (to his right.)


January 31, 1961

Edward Connery Lathem, Trustee and Subscriber (photo circa 2006).

Edward Connery Lathem eloquently states his case for a memorial. “Probably nowhere in America does there exist a rural community so susceptible of a significant and rewarding achievement through preservation and historical maintenance as Plymouth Notch.  Among its special virtues as a place are these: 1) It is a real village, not a contrived one: and it is impressively picturesque and moving in its simplicity, which is still basically unspoiled.  2)  It exists in a strikingly handsome countryside; and, although accessible, it has a degree of isolation that adds to its impact and grace.  3)  It relates, by and large, to a relatively recent period; a period with which people today can, many of them, warmly associate their own backgrounds or those of their parents, rather than experiencing, as at many of our “restored” villages, the necessity of transporting themselves back in time to an imagined age in the distant past.  4)  It is a place where—and it is the more intriguing for the unlikelihood of this being so—important historic events actually occurred, for not only was a future-President born here, he also took his oath of office here, on August 3, 1923, following the sudden death of Warren G. Harding.  5)  It has retained to this day an atmosphere that still releases a sense of the drama of those memorable events of its past, as well as of other events and circumstances—as represented by many of its sites: the back room of the village store, where the President-to-be was born; the parlor in the homestead across the way, where the “Midnight Oath” was administered by the light of a kerosene lamp; the little hillside cemetery, where generations of Coolidges lie buried in a row, including Calvin Jr., who died so tragically during the White House years, the President himself, and Mrs. Coolidge—these sites, plus a handful of houses, the white-clapboarded schoolhouse, the stately cheese factory, the tiny church.”

Mr. Lathem proposes that the Foundation aim to construct a building constituting a memorial to Calvin Coolidge.  This building is conceived to be a museum but “not an exhaustive presidential library or archives of the Coolidge era.”  It should be in Plymouth and have exhibits that tell the story of the accomplishments of Calvin Coolidge and initially provide an educational experience for visitors.  Mr. Latham proposes a preliminary drawing of the facility by Payson R. Webber that includes local Vermont stone.  It will be privately funded and not be turned over to the federal government.


December 5 – 6,  1961

A conference is held in Plymouth and Woodstock with a committee from Colonial Williamsburg represented by Vice President, Director of Interpretations, Edward P. Alexander; Vice President, Curator of Collections, John M. Graham II; and Senior Vice President, Resident Architect, A. Edwin Kendrew.  The Williamsburg team concludes that Calvin Coolidge is a personification of a dream that any American boy may become president.  The inauguration scene, so homely and typically democratic, captures the imagination of the American public.  And so does the shrewd, industrious, upright, straightforward, and quietly humorous Coolidge, a typical Vermonter and small town American.  This incident in the American tradition of simple, homespun democracy is well symbolized by the little village of Plymouth Notch, where 12 or 13 buildings and their environs constitute a most attractive historical village of strong significance in the story of rural and small town American democracy.  “The village can be preserved, restored, and interpreted as an important part of the American heritage.”


July 6, 1962

To inspire national support for the Foundation, John Coolidge invites leading national dignitaries to become Sponsors (later called Advisory Board Members) of the Foundation.  The response is prompt, cordial and enthusiastically affirmative:

Marion (Bartlett) Thurber Denby, wife of former U.S. Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby (1921 – 1924).  Acceptance is dated August 4, 1962.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Acceptance is dated August 24, 1962. “I am highly complimented by the invitation you extended to me on behalf of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation to become an honorary member of its special advisory board.  It is with considerable pleasure that I accept to serve in this capacity.  With warm personal regard…”

Mrs. William T. Gossett (Elizabeth Hughes Gossett), of Bloomfield Hills, MI, wife of philanthropist, lawyer, and diplomat Mr. William T. Gossett, and daughter of Charles Evans Hughes, the former chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and former U.S. secretary of state. Acceptance is dated August 23, 1962.

Former President Herbert C. Hoover. Acceptance is dated July 12, 1962. “… I consider it an honor to be a member of the Advisory Committee you mention… No doubt you have already considered getting your Father’s papers together with various historical materials of his times.  It would be of great national service if a Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library could be added to those of his four successors in the Presidency which have already been established.”
7.6.62.KennedyLetter IMG_8999JFKPresident John F. Kennedy. Acceptance is dated August 6, 1962. “I was delighted to hear of the project to create at Plymouth, Vermont, a memorial to your father… The story of your father taking the oath of office at Plymouth is one of the great dramatic stories of our country, which will give particular significance to this project.”

Mr. Paul Mellon, son of U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. Acceptance is dated July 12, 1962. “Needless to say, I would be very happy to accept.  … As you know, my father was a profound admirer of President Coolidge, and I myself have always had the happiest recollections of various kindnesses to me when I was in Washington on vacations from school and from Yale.  I remember that he devoted half an hour to an hour of his time on a busy New Year’s Day in granting me an interview when I was working for the Yale Daily News… practically writing the article for me.”

Mrs. Gladys Sargent Spaulding, wife of U.S. Attorney General John Garibaldi Sargent.  Acceptance is dated July 12, 1962.

Chairman, Mathematics Department of the University of Chicago Marshall H. Stone, son of former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Harlan Fiske Stone. Acceptance dated February 5, 1963.

Former President Harry S. Truman.  Acceptance is dated August 31, 1962. “I am most happy to accept your invitation… This is a project in which I am personally interested, and I wish you every success.” (In his personal hand, President Truman adds his post script: “Please let me know when you are ready to start.  I would like to make a contribution.”)

Mr. Chauncey L. Waddell, former war aviator and founder of the investment bank Waddell & Reed,  Inc., who married Ms. Catherine T. Hughes, daughter of Charles Evans Hughes, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and former U.S. secretary of state.  Acceptance is dated July 18, 1962.


Former Vice President of the United States Henry A. Wallace

Former Vice President of the U.S. Henry A. Wallace under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and son of Henry Cantwell Wallace, secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Harding and Coolidge.  Acceptance is dated July 12, 1962. “I would say that it is altogether appropriate that just the right kind of Museum be erected in memory of your father and of the way of life which he represented… I was deeply impressed by my visit to Plymouth several years ago on the occasion of the ceremonies.”

Mr. C. Sinclair Weeks, U.S. senator from Massachusetts and secretary of Commerce under President Dwight D. Eisenhower; and son of John W. Weeks, secretary of War from 1921 – 1925.  Acceptance is dated July 11, 1962.

Mr. Owen A. West, son of Roy Owen West, who served as President Coolidge’s secretary of the Interior, January 28, 1928, to March 5, 1929.  Acceptance is dated July 12, 1962.

Mr. Lyman D. Wilbur, son of Secretary of the Navy and former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Curtis D. Wilbur.  Mr. Lyman D. Wilbur married Henrietta Shattuck, daughter of Herbert A. Shattuck, publicity director for inventor Thomas A. Edison at Leland Stanford, Jr., University.  Acceptance is dated July 23, 1962.

Dr. Philip Work, Gulfport, MS, son of Hubert Work, MD, who served as the Harding postmaster general, 1922 – 23 and secretary of the Interior under Coolidge from July 25, 1923, to July 24, 1928.


November 12, 1964

John Coolidge reports: “I have personally acquired the Willcox House and also the Blanchard House and a substantial amount of land with the latter.  The state has acquired the so-called meetinghouse lot from Miss Ruth M. Aldrich, which together with the Homestead, the Wilder House and barn, my cheese factory and the Schoolhouse means that between us we now have pretty much of the village with the exception of the store, the Aldrich House and, of course, the church.”


February 2, 1965

A Restoration Program is suggested to allow buildings to be opened to the public including:

  1. The Reception Center—the Willcox House, circa 1860.
  2. The Working Farm—the Blanchard Farm, circa 1900.
  3. Coolidge Farmhouse—as of the 1920s.
  4. Birthplace and General Store—as of the 1870s.
  5. Aldrich House—as of the 1850s.
  6. Azro Johnson House—to be preserved.
  7. Stone Schoolhouse—to be rebuilt.


June 12, 1967

June 12, 1967—Lady Bird Johnson dedicates a plaque designating the Coolidge Homestead a National Historic Monument. (l. to r.) Florence T. Coolidge, John Coolidge, Mary French Rockefeller and Lady Bird Johnson. Photo by World Wide Photos. CCMF collection, Folder 8, Lady Bird Johnson.

Lady Bird Johnson visits the Homestead and dedicates a plaque, located on the front lawn, designating that Plymouth Notch is a National Historic Landmark. She is accompanied by Secretary of the Interior and Mrs. Stewart L. Udall, Governor and Mrs. Phillip H. Hoff, and Mr. and Mrs. Laurance S. Rockefeller. Mrs. Johnson comments, “This is a charming little town, and I can see from it why he lived and worked as he did.”  The rambling white house gave her a “swift little pang,” because it reminded her of her Texas home.


July 14, 1967

The first Joint Meeting of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation and the Vermont Board of Historic Sites is held.


September 21, 1967

Sally Thompson addresses the Conference of the Vermont Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.  In the address she observes: “Among our friends we should stress our new relationship of close co-operation with the Vermont Board of Historic Sites and the Vermont Historical Society. … We found that what one organization could not do, another could.  Having proved our united strength and solidarity under fire, we of the Foundation have new courage for the future… I would like to compare the Memorial Area of Plymouth Notch to a rare gem.  Only in the hands of experts can it be polished and made available for public viewing.  Some of this work is already done.  We have plans for the rest.”



Edward Connery Lathem states that the aspiration of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation is: “[To] memorialize a president through preserving and maintaining the uniqueness of the village from which he originated and by reflecting within a museum installation not just this man and his deeds but also the fascination of the age of which he was a part.   It is intended as a living memorial and a multi-faceted educational enterprise of national orientation and consequence.”


August 3, 1968

John Coolidge announces a joint venture between the Foundation and the Vermont Board of Historic Sites.  He and William B. Pinney announce that the Florence Cilley general store, post office and Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace have been purchased and discuss the future plans for the area.  These include keeping Plymouth Notch as it has been by building a reception center in an inconspicuous location where visitors may park their cars, receive information about the Notch and hopefully visit a small museum-library.  The historic working farm is not overlooked.

Mr. Pinney discusses the restorations which will commence in 1969 and states that historic preservation has become a real necessity.  “A Memorial to Calvin Coolidge cannot alone be a building, but also must be preservation of a way of life.  … Plymouth’s importance as a Historic Site cannot be overstated.  It represents not only the preservation of the home of a President, but the entire surroundings that shaped his life and those of his ancestors before him.  It combines his birthplace, his home, the home of his family, and the place for his inauguration, all in the untouched beauty of a Vermont village.  It is complete with the original artifacts so vital to the portrayal of its history.  It is truly unique among all Historic Sites of the Nation.”

The Foundation begins to act as a clearing house for accurate information about Calvin Coolidge and his background.

A Study Committee suggests, “… the Foundation should not become a holding company of sorts or operate any of the historic structures at Plymouth … with the exception of the Union Christian Church … but to concern itself with programs to enrich the historical interests of the area and the securing of funds from non-governmental sources.”


November 1968

Members of the Union Christian Church place the property in the hands of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation to preserve the church and yet maintain a separation between church and state.


January 20, 1970

The Vermont Board of Historic Sites and the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation establish a Joint Site and Design Committee to plan for the construction of a reception center.


December 13, 1970

The Plymouth Notch Historic District is accepted on the National Register of Historic Places.


August 1971

August 1971—Plymouth Notch. Groundbreaking for The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum. Officials gather to view construction preliminaries at the site. The Reception Center is due to open July 4 weekend, 1972 at President Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace. Attending are (l. to r.) Thomas Oakes, State Buildings Division; Hayden Jones, Curtis Goodrich, and John Russell, Jr., John Russell Corporation, builders; John Coolidge, Robert A. Sincerbeaux, and Douglas Ross, Trustees of the Coolidge Memorial Foundation; Payson R. Webber, architect and Trustee; Stanley Miner, chairman of the Board of Historic Sites; William B. Pinney (kneeling), director of Historic Sites Division. Photo courtesy of the State of Vermont.

Ground is broken for The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum which is due to open July 4 weekend, 1972 at President Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace in Plymouth Notch.  Attending are Thomas Oakes, State Buildings Division; Hayden Jones, Curtis Goodrich and John Russell, Jr, John Russell Corporation, builders; John Coolidge, Robert A. Sincerbeaux, Douglas Ross, members of the Coolidge Memorial Foundation; Payson R. Webber, architect; Stanley P. Miner, chairman of the Board of Historic Sites; William B. Pinney, director of the Historic Sites Division.


July 4, 1972

William B. Pinney and Sally Thompson are awarded framed citations by Vermont Governor Deane C. Davis. Courtesy of Aldo Merusi. CCMF collection, Celebrations Folder.

The Centennial of Coolidge’s birth is celebrated in Plymouth Notch. The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum is dedicated.

The sun comes out for the first time in days.  The National Guard band is exhilarating and the Centennial starts with literally thousands of interested people attending the formal morning program which is held on the front porch of the post office and general store.  Governor Deane C. Davis, Professor Emeritus Allen R. Foley of Dartmouth College, and John Coolidge are speakers.  Trustee Consuelo Northrup Bailey is the mistress of ceremonies. Sally Thompson and William B. Pinney receive framed citations from the governor.

(l. to r.) Richard W. Mallary, William B. Pinney, and Vermont Governor Deane C. Davis. Courtesy of Aldo Merusi. CCMF collection, Celebrations Folder.

The University of Vermont Choral Union sings several old-time songs, including some composed by Justin Morgan.  The Whippoorwills Boys Barbershop Quartet also sings.

Following the morning program, Governor Deane C. Davis cuts the ribbon. State Senator Edward G. Janeway recognizes and pays tribute to the manifold time and substance made by Foundation members.  The building fills with visitors.

A short private service is held at the grave of Calvin Coolidge with the Reverend Nevin Bender officiating.  Former Speaker of the House Richard W. Mallary lays the wreath sent by President Nixon as has been done each year on July Fourth.

Postmistress Elaine Sailer opens the post office for a short time and all available commemorative envelopes are cancelled.  A new guide to the historic buildings of Plymouth Notch is prepared by the Foundation, designed by Frank H. Teagle, Jr., and published by Robert A. Sharp.  The state police estimate the attendance during the day to be 3,500.


July 4, 1981
1981—Annual Meeting. (l. to r.) John Coolidge, Laurance S. Rockefeller, Mary French Rockefeller, and Payson R. Webber. Photo by Sally Thompson. CCMF collection Annual Meetings Box.

Mary French Rockefeller, Trustee, states that she and her husband Laurance S. Rockefeller wish, as their gift, to have telephone and power wires in the Historic Site placed underground.


August 1, 1982

A rededication of the Union Christian Church follows the phase 1 restoration with Pamela Lucas of the Bridgewater Congregational Church as guest speaker.


April 28, 1988

Wilmer Schmell agrees to serve as project coordinator for the phase 2 emodeling of the church basement.  A floor plan is prepared by Payson R. Webber which provides more suitable office, storage, and restroom facilities for the Foundation as well as a fire-proof vault and open area for small meetings and receptions.


December 19, 1995

The Building Committee plans a new sprinkler system for the church


July 30 – August 3, 1998

A major four-day event is held honoring the 75th anniversary of the Homestead Inaugural under the leadership of Co-Chairs Robert G. Kittner and Mimi Baird.  Two days are a conference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA, and two days are a re-enactment celebration in Plymouth Notch.


August 2 – 3, 1998

The 75th anniversary of the Homestead Inaugural celebration is held at Plymouth Notch.

In the pre-dawn hours of August 3rd the Inaugural reenactment occurs.  It is filmed and aired later that morning on the nationally televised Today Show.  Luminaries read passages from the Autobiography.  More than 100 people come to watch in the middle of the night.  The reenactment participants include:


Plymouth Notch. 75th Anniversary of the Homestead Inaugural. (Top row, l. to r.) U.S. Senators from Vermont Robert T. Stafford, Patrick Leahy, James M. Jeffords, Bernie Sanders, with John Coolidge; and (in front) actor Jim Cooke impersonating Calvin Coolidge poses with Boy Scouts on the Cilley Store Porch. CCMF collection, Misc. Photos.


75th Anniversary of the Homestead Inaugural. Re-enactment of the Inauguration at 2:47 am. Pictured are (l. to r.) Eric Francis as Joseph Fountain from The Springfield Reporter, Christopher Coolidge Jeter as his great-grandfather Calvin Coolidge, Lydia Coolidge Sayles as her grandmother Grace Coolidge, Jim Cooke as Colonel John Coolidge. Photo courtesy of Mimi Baird.


(l. to r.) Jeremy Sales, Lydia Coolidge Sayles, Malcolm S. “Steve” Forbes, Jr. and his daughter Moira Forbes. CCMF collection, Coolidge Days Photos 1998 – 1999 Album.


July 4, 2010 — Plymouth Notch. James H. Ottaway, Jr. with Vermont State Representative Dennis Devereaux. Photo courtesy of Mimi Baird. CCMF Collection.

In conjunction with the Vermont Land Trust, James H. Ottaway, Jr., further protects the land around the Plymouth Notch Cemetery by putting an easement limiting development rights in perpetuity on the 97.6 acres of land he purchased in 1996 from the William J. Bryant family.


February 1 and April 8, 2005

The State of Vermont and the Foundation discuss the concept of enlarging The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum at the Historic Site and agree to partner in this endeavor.



The Foundation’s private capital campaign for the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center commences. Mimi Baird chairs the campaign


June 2009

The Capital Campaign that Mimi Baird chairs raises $1,250,000 in private donations, a $330,000 Grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and a $196,000 HUD Grant.  Mimi Baird encourages the Vermont State Legislature to partner by funding $80,000 in 2006, $50,000 in 2007, $200,000 in 2008 and $1,500,000 in 2009.


August 1,  2009

Governor Jim Douglas breaks ground for the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center.

August 3, 2009

Construction of the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center commences.  The new 14,000 square foot building is an expansion of The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum. Wright Construction, Mt. Holly, VT, is general contractor.  Vermont Department of Building and General Services, manages the project.   The architect is Black River Design of Montpelier, VT.


August 7, 2010

Governor Jim Douglas, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, and the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation join together for the Dedication and Grand Opening of the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center.  Speakers are: State Preservation Officer Giovanna Peebles, Governor Jim Douglas, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Jeremy Sayles, S. Edward Jeter, Tom Slayton, John Dumville, and Robert P. Kirby.  Governor Jim Douglas is awarded the Calvin Coolidge Award for Distinguished Public Service.  C-SPAN covers the ceremonies.

One-third of the building investment costs are funded by the Foundation and two-thirds by the State of Vermont.  The project is a model for a private-public partnership.  In all, Mimi Baird spearheads a capital campaign which raises $3,500,000. The dreams of John Coolidge, Edward Connery Lathem, and countless others for a memorial museum-library for Calvin Coolidge come true after 50 years.


Plymouth Notch. Vermont Governor Jim Douglas cuts the ribbon dedicating the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center. (l. to r.) Robert P. Kirby, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, Mimi Baird, U. S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders and U. S. Congressman from Vermont Peter Welch. Photo by Vermont Standard. Photo courtesy of Mimi Baird.


Dedication of the President Calvin Coolidge Education Center and Museum. Barbara S. O’Connell with Vermont Governor Douglas in the Orton Room. Photo courtesy of Mimi Baird.


July 2011

A Speaking of Coolidge series features nationally recognized speakers:

July 6, 2011 Amity Shlaes, author and Coolidge scholar
July 13, 2011 Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist related to former First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge
July 20, 2011 Nicholas R. Clifford, professor emeritus, Middlebury College
July 27, 2011 William Henkel, statesman
August 10, 2011 Joseph Ellis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, professor at Mt. Holyoke College


July 30, 2011

The Annual Dinner is An Evening with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.  A capacity audience of 250 persons gathers under a tent at the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center to hear guest speaker Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer’s address, Making our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View.


Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer and Trustee Mimi Baird. Justice Breyer speaks at the Annual Dinner and receives the Calvin Coolidge Award for Distinguished Public Service. Photo by Nanci, Courtesy of the Vermont Standard.


Parade to the Plymouth Notch Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Paul Gutheil.


Spring 2012

exhibit-2An interactive museum exhibit is to unveiled for the Permanent Exhibit Room named after William B. Pinney. The design is determined by a collaborative Design Committee comprised of Giovanna Peebles, John P. Dumville, William W. Jenney and Mimi Baird.  Mimi Baird was instrumental in encouraging the Vermont Legislature to approve a $250,000 grant for state-of-the-art exhibits which significantly enhance the educational quality of the exhibit.


Courtesy of A Chronicle: The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation: The First Fifty Years, 1960 – 2012, © 2012