by Stuart Strothman
Up at the History Expo in Tunbridge toward the end of June 2007, it was hard work as usual for Addie and Addison Minott. Addison is a Trustee for the Vermont Historical Society (VHS), and the two of them have taken on considerable responsibility as the main volunteers for the operation of the annual event which brings together an average of a hundred Vermont historical societies. This year, there were over five thousand people in attendance. The VHS hires a director for the event, and the Minotts work with the director and four capable groundskeepers to set up tables, chairs, provide electricity, and to help society members set up their presentations.
Each society creates a display based on a theme of its own choosing. This year Addie, the president of the Guilford Historical Society, focused on past, present and future in our hamlet of Algiers. The display for the past included two shrewd mannequins at a card table, as the story goes that the hamlet was named in around 1815, when Guilford was still a very populous town at the frontier of the new state of Vermont. Some of the Brattleboro men liked to come and play poker, and the Guilford men were able to take them for a considerable sum. Unhappy with the outcome, the men of Brattleboro returned on a number of occasions, only to meet with further losses. The War of 1812 was still fresh in everyone’s mind, and as discussion often turned to pirates and commerce in the area of Gibraltar, the Brattleboro men labeled the Guilford poker players as a ‘pack of Algerian pirates!’
Addie’s display of the present included a number of “then and now” photos of locations in the hamlet, using historic photos scanned during the 2006 – 07 school year by Guilford 8th graders as part of a Community History Partnership program sponsored by VHS. Many areas have changed in their landscape, and some, like the carriage house and the mill, are no longer there. There were photos of the new firehouse, with its fresh coat of paint.
For the future of Algiers, Addie turned to the work of Eric Morse and the Friends of Algiers, and the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust (BACLT). The Friends have been working hard on revision of the hamlet aimed at revitalization, and have various schematics designed to return Algiers to its former beauty and importance as a town center. For its part, BACLT has developed plans for renovation of one existing apartment building, and construction of a three-story house which would provide four apartments to middle-income families.
Our thanks and appreciation go to the Minotts, for all their labors.