Celebrating Calvin Coolidge in Plymouth Notch | Happy Vermont

Explore Vermont

Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site

Celebrating Calvin Coolidge in Plymouth Notch

Vice president Calvin Coolidge was asleep in his childhood home in Plymouth Notch when the news arrived that President Warren Harding had died.

A few hours later, on Aug. 3, 1923, at 2:47 a.m., Coolidge was sworn in as the 30th president of the United States. His father, Colonel John Coolidge, a notary, administered the oath of office by candlelight in their home.

This week, a four-day centennial celebration will commemorate the anniversary of Coolidge’s inauguration at the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site on Aug. 2-5.

Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch and graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts. His political career began as a councilman in Northampton, Mass., before eventually becoming the governor of Massachusetts. After serving as president from 1923 to 1929, he retired in Northampton.

Coolidge Plymouth Vermont

-A small post office at the front of the Florence Cilley General Store in Plymouth Notch served the town until 1976.

Brave Little State

But his heart was in Vermont. Coolidge’s famous speech, “Vermont is a State I Love,” was delivered in Bennington in September 1928, while visiting Vermont to view the damage and reconstruction resulting from the flood of 1927.

“I could not look upon the peaks of Ascutney, Killington, Mansfield and Equinox without being moved in a way that no other scene could move me,” Coolidge said during his speech. It was there he coined the phrase, “this brave little state of Vermont.”

Coolidge returned to Plymouth Notch regularly during his presidency, even if he had established his Summer White House elsewhere, according to Coolidge ambassador and administrator Tracy Messer. Coolidge, born on July 4, 1872, died in 1933 and is buried in the town cemetery with seven generations of Coolidges.

Calvin Coolidge general store

-The Florence Cilley General Store was built in the 1850s. President Coolidge’s father became storekeeper in 1868.

The Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site

The first Coolidge to settle in Plymouth—the town back then was called Saltash—was the president’s great, great grandfather, John Coolidge. The Vermont Legislature changed the town’s name to Plymouth in 1797. The only place where the Saltash name apparently survived is the town’s tallest peak—Saltash Mountain, according to Esther Swift’s book, Vermont Place-Names: Footprints of History.

Plymouth Notch includes Coolidge’s carefully preserved childhood home, a general store, community church, one-room schoolhouse and a cheese factory.

Now a National Historic Landmark, the property became a state historic site in 1947, and the village remains nearly unchanged since the early 20th century.

Today, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site oversees 26 structures and approximately 200 acres as well as thousands of artifacts associated with rural Vermont of the 19th and 20th century, according to Rejoice Scherry, a historic sites regional administrator for the Coolidge site.

The Florence Cilley General Store, built in the 1850s, is attached to the Wilder House—Coolidge’s birthplace. John Coolidge, the president’s father, became the storekeeper in 1868.

“He was a man of many talents and had a good head for business and a calling for public service,” Messer says of the president’s father. “The store was likely a more lucrative profession than being a farmer, as were his ancestors.”

Florence Cilley, whose name is above the front door of the general store, ran the business between 1917 and 1945. A small post office at the front of the store served the town until 1976.

Coolidge Historic Site

-Plymouth Notch is the birthplace and childhood home of Calvin Coolidge.

A Natural Treasure

 In 1947, the Vermont Legislature formed the Historic Sites Commission, later called the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The primary directive to the Commission was that “special attention be given to the suitable development of President Coolidge’s birthplace.”

According to Scherry, it was clear that Plymouth Notch had become a national treasure. One hundred years after Coolidge was inaugurated, it still is.

Learn more about the Centennial Celebration at coolidge2023.org.

If you go: The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site is open through October 22, 2023. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays) (3780 Route 100A, Plymouth Notch; historicsites.vermont.gov/calvin-coolidge)

Admission: Adults $12; children (6-14) $4; children under 6 free; family pass (up to 6 people with 4 adults) $30

Plymouth Cheese

-The Plymouth Cheese Factory was built by Colonel John Coolidge, James S. Brown and three other local farmers in 1890.



Barns, Calvin Coolidge, historic sites, History, Plymouth Notch, Windsor County
No Comments

Post A Comment