Saturday, August 23, 2014
Calvin Coolidge Historic Site
If like me, you enjoy visiting historic presidential sites, The Calvin Coolidge Historic Site in Vermont is one that should not be missed. While ‘Silent Cal” was not exactly an exciting president and I knew next to nothing about him, the village is interesting enough on its own to make this a place you will want to add to your next Vermont visit.
The site is located in Plymouth Notch, Vermont which is the location of his boyhood home and it was where he was when he got the notice that he was now the President of the United States after the unexpected death of President Harding. His father, who was a Notary, swore him in.
The site is maintained by the State of Vermont which was given possession by the president’s son John. This is not just one building, there are several buildings in addition to his childhood home including the church that he attended, barns, the general store and a restaurant.
The Calvin Coolidge Historic Site is open from late May to Mid-October daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults and $2 for children 6-14. A family pass for up to 8 people is $25. Plymouth is located about 30 miles from Rutland, Vt. There is plenty of free parking. All the buildings are ADA compliant.
Begin your visit to the Calvin Coolidge Historic Site at the visitor center. There is a film to watch, to introduce you to our 30th president as well as a small museum with changing exhibits. What we saw were pictures and stories about his parents and grandparents, his sister, his wife, and sons. It chronicled his life from boyhood through his last years in Northampton, Mass. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, there is an exhibit here in 2014 entitled "The Coolidges, Plymouth, and the Civil War."
There are tours every hour that leave from the general store. We ended up watching half of the video when we arrived at the visitor center and then going to take the hourly tour, and then when we were finished with our visit we returned to the visitor center to see the end of the video and check out the store.
Frankly, the tour is pretty lame, basically, however, you need to take it to get into the house where he was born, the barn and the house where he grew up and where his father swore him in as president. Our tour guide was sweet but had nothing of any interest to tell us, and even my husband thought she was the worst guide we have ever had. Plan on figuring most of it out on your own.
Upstairs at the general store, which his father owned during his lifetime, was the summer white house. There was a silent film that you could watch there about the time he spent here during summer of 1924. The room has remained much the same as it was then.
One thing not to miss is the Plymouth Cheese Factory. There is a small, but well-stocked, store downstairs and a museum upstairs, all you ever wanted to know about the production of Plymouth Cheese and even more. I bought quite a few items from the store, they have all Vermont made items and some like the cheese and some soap are made right here in Plymouth Notch.
Probably the biggest draw is the church where the Coolidge family worshiped. It was built in 1840 and follows the Congregational tradition. It is built in the Greek Revival style with a beautiful wooden interior with perfect acoustics. It is no longer an active congregation which is very sad since it is a lovely church. There was a docent in the church who was happy to talk about the church which used to be her parish.
There is a small restaurant on the site which comes in very handy since you will spend several hours here and may very well need sustenance. Don’t leave the area without stopping by the cemetery to see the multiple generations of Coolidges, including the president, who are buried there.
While Calvin Coolidge is not one of the better-known presidents, his presidential site is extremely educational and interesting and one you will be glad you visited. We certainly were.