The Vermont Granite Museum of Barre is currently under development. We have plans for exhibits on geology, technology, tools, and will show example of stone at different stages of processing, show case our immigrant past and their involvement in our granite industry.
We have a rich collection of video taped interviews with quarry workers, owners, sculptors which tell stories of Barre’s development and growth in the graite industry. We are currently cataloguing these interviews and transferring them from VHS to DVD for their preservation. These interview along with ephemera, and memorabilia donated to us by the families of Barre, create a historical record and picture of Barre.
The sheer size of our building is astonishing to many visitors. This 25,000 square foot shed was the largest manufacturing shed of its kind when built in 1895. It is a long timber frame building now supported by steel trusses, which were added in its the renovation phase completed in 2002. In its renovation, the entire building was enveloped in a replica of itself. This was a huge and expensive undertaking in which a new exterior was built over the original. This allowed us to completely insulate the building while preserving the look and feel of the original raw interior timber frame, while also presenting the exterior as it would have looked. Because the width of the building was increased to accommodate insulation, new windows cases had to be build to the Dept of the Interior specifications for an historic building on the National Register. A new foundation in concrete was also set under the building requiring the entire shed to be lifted on jacks while this was installed.
The main shed is still largely unfinished, with a dirt floor, no heat or plumbing. We are fitting out this portion of the building as our fund raising allows. Our Multipurpose Room, a 1600 sf room extending off the shed was completed in 2008. It houses our research materials, our drafting exhibit and function as a meeting room and class room.
The building is divided in two parts. 6,000 sf is our Stone Arts School. This portion of the building is fitted up as a state of the arts carving facility. It houses 8 carving bankers, two sandblasting rooms and an 7.5 ton overhead crane. It will soon also house our new administrative offices and gift shop.
Our riverside location, 11.9 acres, nestled against the North Steven’s Branch that feeds into the Winooski River, gives us a park like setting. We have a spacious parking lot which has hosted large community events such as the Washington County Fair and Field days. In September of 2008 we added a bocce court with the help of the Stone Foundation who hosted their annual Stone Symposium at our facility. We have future plans for a sculpture garden that will be part of Barre’s bike path.
Exhibits under development include a map showing types of granite from around the world, Barre granite shown in different finishes and at progressing stages of process. We hope to have a variety of stone samples showing igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary stones for examination. We are seeking help from students at all levels to create these exhibits.
We have a collection of large tools which illustrate the changes and development made in manufacturing technology. We have plans for the installation of two blacksmith shops. One, donated to us from the Anderson Freiberg Company, will be a static example of a historic blacksmith shop illustrating their historic use and integral position in sharpening and making of tools need in cutting granite. The second blacksmith shop will be operating and will provide live demonstrations for our visitors.
We will also be including an area with in our Museum for our local stone artists and manufacturers to sell and showcase their work. We want our community as well as visitors to know what we make in Barre, and the level of beauty and artistry that comes from our sculptors.
Our Stone Arts School will be open to visitors to observe our students and the process of working in granite. These live demonstrations give visitors a chance to see up close how granite is worked and even ask our sculptors questions.
The museum also now has an “Annex” at the General Stone on Millstone Hill, 34 Old Church Road. This is a three room exhibit with in the general store that explains the history and impact of quarrying in Central Vermont and specifically on Millstone Hill. The Annex is open when the General Store is open which is year round.
With the support and generosity of our community we have accomplished a great deal in our 10 years of development. We have great work ahead of us, but we are exhilarated by the possibilities for completing this facility and creating another great monument to American history and achievement.