Secretary Of State Has A New, Historic Residence

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(Host) Many of the buildings that are home to state offices in Montpelier have a long history.

One was a railroad station, another a hotel, and many were previously the elegant residences of notable people.

As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, that’s the case of the new home of the Secretary of State’s office.

(Kinzel) Last Friday was moving day at the Secretary of State’s office. Workers carried heavy wooden desks, chairs, lamps and hundreds of cardboard file boxes into nearby trucks.

The Office is leaving one of Montpelier’s landmark buildings known as Redstone. It’s located on a hill side on the edge on town.

The residence was built in 1890 as a summer house for John Burgess. He founded the first school of political science at Columbia University in 1881.

It’s a gothic red brick mansion with a wrap around porch, a large round tower and a high asymmetrical roof. It was quite unlike any other building in Montpelier at the time. Secretary of State Jim Condos:

(Condos) "This is a beautiful old building it needs some love at this point it’s getting tired but a few years ago they put a new roof on it the state now there’s a commission this year to look at future uses of this property whether to sell it on the open market or whether to maintain as a state building and fix it up."

(Kinzel) The Burgess family later sold Redstone and it was home to the Vermont State Police between 1947 and 1984 – that’s when Secretary of State Jim Douglas moved in.

Now the office has moved to an old Victorian house just down the street from the Statehouse. The address is 128 State Street.

Condos says there’s a connection between his old office and his new one:

(Condos) "We’re going to a building that was designed by the same architect, George Gurnsee who was the third mayor of Montpelier designed this building but also designed 128 State Street which is the Dewey House. It was built by Edward Dewey who was the original founder of National Life of Vermont and his brother was Admiral Dewey."

(Kinzel) The Dewey House has its own history. Once located directly across the street from the Statehouse, the entire building was moved on railroad tracks about a hundred yards down State Street to make room for the construction of new state office building in the late 1940s.

It’s the one that now houses the Department of Motor Vehicles. The only damage during the move was a cracked window.

No story about Redstone would be complete without mentioning its ghost. A number of employees swear that the ghost makes several appearances a year. What does Condos think about the ghost stories?

(Condos) "That’s a good question. I have not seen the ghost. There are some interesting sounds that occur when you’re in the building alone at night so it could be the ghost."

(Kinzel) Condos says, as far as he knows, there have been no reports of ghosts inhabiting his new offices at the Dewey House.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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