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St. Johnsbury Athenæum (1871) – Interior: library stacks detail from upper level | by origamidon
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St. Johnsbury Athenæum (1871) – Interior: library stacks detail from upper level

1171 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, Vermont USA • The St. Johnsbury Athenæum is a private, nonprofit public library and art gallery located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The Athenæum fills two roles: it serves the people of St. Johnsbury by enriching their lives, and it stands as a regional and national treasure - a monument to the nineteenth-century belief in learning. The Athenæum is a legacy of the Fairbanks Family of St. Johnsbury, inventors and manufacturers of the world's first platform scale, who gave the Athenæum to the trustees of the institution in 1871. With his wealth Horace Fairbanks created a center of culture for the people of his town - a true "athenaeum." – From the Athenæum's website.


The Athenæum's construction (1868-1873), its collection of American landscape paintings and books, its original role as a public library and free art gallery, and the industrial origins of the fortune that provided it, all contribute to the national significance of the building. The art collection contains a number of Hudson River School paintings. This unaltered building retains a strong, elegant Victorian flavor of the 19th century. – From the National Historic Landmark Statement of Significance.


☞ On July 18, 1996, the National Park Service added this structure to the National Register of Historic Places (#96000970).


☞ Also, on July 18, 1996, the National Park Service designated this structure a National Historic Landmark.


National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction, [and only 17 in Vermont ]. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff who work to nominate new landmarks and provide assistance to existing landmarks.


National Historic Landmarks are exceptional places. They form a common bond between all Americans. While there are many historic places across the nation, only a small number have meaning to all Americans--these we call our National Historic Landmarks. – from the National Park Service.


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In July, 2010, I started a project to visit and document all seventeen Landmarks in Vermont. Here they are (in order of NHL designation):


[01] 09/22/60 – JUSTIN S. MORRILL HOMESTEAD, Strafford, Orange County

[02] 01/28/64 – TICONDEROGA (Side-paddle-wheel Lakeboat), Shelburne, Chittenden County

[03] 06/23/65 – CALVIN COOLIDGE HOMESTEAD DISTRICT, Plymouth Notch, Windsor County

[04] 12/21/65 – EMMA WILLARD HOUSE, Middlebury, Addison County

[05] 11/13/66 – ROBBINS AND LAWRENCE ARMORY AND MACHINE SHOP, Windsor, Windsor County

[06] 06/11/67 – GEORGE PERKINS MARSH BOYHOOD HOME, Woodstock, Windsor County

[07] 05/23/68 – ROBERT FROST FARM, Ripton, Addison County

[08] 12/30/70 – VERMONT STATEHOUSE, Montpelier, Washington County

[09] 11/28/72 – MOUNT INDEPENDENCE, Orwell, Addison County

[10] 12/20/89 – STELLAFANE OBSERVATORY, Springfield, Windsor County

[11] 11/04/93 – NAULAKHA (Rudyard Kipling House), Dummerston, Windham County

[12] 06/19/96 – ROUND CHURCH, Richmond, Chittenden County

[13] 06/19/96 – ST. JOHNSBURY ATHENÆUM, St. Johnsbury, Caledonia County

[14] 12/09/97 – ROKEBY, Ferrisburgh, Addison County

[15] 05/16/00 – ROCKINGHAM MEETING HOUSE, Windham County

[16] 05/16/00 – SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY HALL, Barre, Washington County

[17] 01/03/01 – SHELBURNE FARMS, Shelburne, Chittenden County

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☞ Here's a link to an explorable GoogleMap with locations (and photos) of all seventeen sites in Vermont with National Historic Landmark designations.


☞ More photos of this and other National Historical Landmarks.

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Taken on August 18, 2010