SWANTON — Given enough time, reliance on memory can glaze so thickly over facts that an entire story shifts.
Take the Memorial Building, for instance, the history of which is not as idyllic as some have asserted, but, instead, simply a very human blend of physical reality and community ideals.
With the aid of the Swanton Historical Society’s president, Ron Kilburn, the Messenger explored newspaper archives and local histories to uncover the Memorial Building’s history.
That history began, more or less, at Swanton’s annual town meeting in March 1947 — more or less because, according to the Swanton Courier’s report, “the townspeople were determined once and for all to get going on the War Memorial.” A year had already passed since Swanton Village voted to construct a War Memorial building on March 12, 1946.
But it was at that 1947 town meeting that the idea lurched toward reality, when Swanton town’s residents voted $30,000 toward the building’s erection. “All other articles in the warning… seemed a routine matter by comparison,” the article said.
Alain Chevalier pointed out at that meeting that village residents would bear the burden of paying for the bulk of the building. Meanwhile, a selectboard member identified only as “Donaldson” said the municipal grand list would have to increase to cover the town’s annual expenditure paying off the building, the opposite situation the building faces today, in which developer Gordon Winters’ renovations to the building will, in themselves, increase the municipal grand list value.
For more on the Memorial Building’s past and possible future, pick up a copy of the weekend Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.