The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site is found in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, a small community hidden away among the Green Mountains. The site is owned by the State of Vermont and operated by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. In Plymouth Notch on the Fourth of July, 1872, Calvin Coolidge, the Thirtieth President of the United States, was born.
Today, the historic site represents not only the preservation of the home of a President, but the surrounding environs that shaped his life and those of his ancestors before him. It combines his birthplace, the family homestead, as well as the homes of relatives and friends, all in the untouched beauty of a Vermont village. The American tradition of simple, homespun democracy is well symbolized by the village. Its 12 or 13 buildings and their surroundings constitute a historical site in which the story of rural American democracy is told and preserved.
It was at Plymouth Notch, in the very late hours of August 2, 1923, that Calvin Coolidge received word of the death of President Warren G. Harding. A few hours later, at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, a unique presidential inauguration occurred. Calvin Coolidge was administered the presidential oath by his father, a notary public, in the family parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp. The inauguration scene, so simple and democratic, captured then as still does today 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.
The historic site comprises over 600 bucolic acres including the hillside cemetery in which President Coolidge is now buried with the members of his family, the Union Christian Church (c. 1840), the Florence Cilley General Store, a one-room schoolhouse, the Aldrich House, the Wilder Barns, the Wilder House, and the cheese factory. The village is complete with the original artifacts so vital to the portrayal of its history.
The site is now home to the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center. For visitors, it provides educational exhibits that tell the story of Calvin Coolidge’s rise from the family homestead at Plymouth Notch to the White House in Washington, D.C. The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation also has its offices in this facility.
Visit the State of Vermont’s Coolidge Website HERE.
The Triumph of A Public – Private Partnership
|August 3, 1923||After Mr. Coolidge took the oath of office at Plymouth Notch the scene soon “resembles the dusty, scuffed-up atmosphere of a carnival or of some outworn European shrine.”|
|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:|
|1935||The Coolidge Memorial Foundation is chartered. However the effort falters following the death of John Garibaldi Sargent.|
|1947||The Vermont Historic Sites Commission is formed by the State of Vermont, which acquires the derelict Wilder House in Plymouth Notch.|
|June 16, 1956||John and Florence Coolidge gift the Coolidge Homestead to the State of Vermont.|
|December 19, 1960||A cadre of Vermont luminaries join John Coolidge and form the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. Dean C. Davis is elected president.|
|January 31, 1961||A case for a memorial for Calvin Coolidge is passionately prepared by Edward Connery Lathem.|
|December 5 – 6, 1961||Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation confers with Colonial Williamsburg.|
|July 6, 1962||President John F. Kennedy and all other former presidents join in to inspire national support for a Coolidge memorial.|
|November 12, 1964||John Coolidge and the State of Vermont acquire land and buildings in the village of Plymouth Notch.|
|February 2, 1965||A restoration program is proposed to allow buildings to be opened to the public.|
|June 12, 1967||Lady Bird Johnson visits the Plymouth Notch and dedicates the Coolidge Homestead as a National Historic Landmark.|
|September 21, 1967||A new relationship of close co-operation is formed by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, the Vermont Board of Historic Sites and the Vermont Historical Society.|
|1968||Edward Connery Lathem states the aspiration of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.|
|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.|
|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||A reception center is planned by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation and the Vermont Board of Historic Preservation.|
|December 13, 1970||The Plymouth Notch Historic District is accepted on the National Register of Historic Places.|
|July 4, 1972||The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum is dedicated. The Centennial of Coolidge’s birth is celebrated in Plymouth Notch.|
|July 4, 1981||Mary French Rockefeller 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 2 & 3, 1998||The 75th anniversary celebration of the Homestead Inaugural is held at Plymouth Notch.|
|1999||In conjunction with the Vermont Land Trust, James H. Ottaway, Jr., further protects the land around the Plymouth Notch Cemetery.|
|February 1 &
April 8, 2005
|The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, in partnership with the State of Vermont, agrees to enlarge the scope of The Coolidge Memorial Reception Center and Museum at the Historic Site.|
|2007||The Foundation commences a $4 million capital campaign for the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center.|
|June 2009||The Vermont State Legislature appropriates $1.5 million for the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center.|
|August 7, 2010||Governor Jim Douglas, dedicates the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center.|
|July 2011||The President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center is venue for nationally recognized speakers.|
|July 30, 2011||Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer addresses capacity gathering.|
|June 9, 2012||William B. Pinney interactive museum facility is unveiled.|
Courtesy of A Chronicle: The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation: The First Fifty Years, 1960 – 2012, © 2012