Manchester Life 2021 | Page 87

Although a trip to the fabled Park McCullough estate is certainly an exceptional visual experience in every sense , it would be a grave mistake to overlook the undeniable cultural significance that lies beneath its superficial beauty . Commissioned at the behest of Woodford , Vermont-born rags-to-riches industrialist Trenor Park in 1865 , the majestic home has housed two of Vermont ’ s governors , Hiland Hall and John McCullough , hosted a dinner with President Benjamin Harrison in 1891 , and served as a luxurious multigenerational homestead for one of Vermont ’ s most distinguished and celebrated families .
Over the course of a century , the philanthropic contributions of the Park-McCullough clan made a sizable difference in the lives of countless local Southern Vermont residents . Nearby schools and libraries bear the names of the Park-McCullough family ’ s politically-ambitious patriarchs , and local institutions and utility infrastructure projects owe their existence to the magnanimous donations and oversight of the Park-McCullough women .
Over fifty years after the last family member to live in the house passed away in 1965 , the Park-McCullough estate still stands as a symbolic representation of their enduring cultural legacy . Moving forward , the Park-McCullough House Association Inc . intends to ensure the preservation of the property for future generations through a series of ambitious and comprehensive restoration campaigns . Thanks to their loving and dedicated efforts – as well as continued community support – one of North Bennington ’ s most beloved landmarks will continue to flourish as a cherished cultural hub and bring people together by hosting unforgettable weddings , uplifting performances , and delightful community events .
For the Park-McCullough House Association ’ s Executive Director Christopher Oldham , the house is much more than a magnificent historical property – it is the site of many of his life ’ s most cherished moments . Christopher says that ever since he first visited the treasured home as a young boy , it has become permanently engrained in his formative memories . “ I was born and raised in North Bennington , and my first experience at the mansion was when I was in fourth grade . I went to North Bennington Grade School , which is just across the street from the mansion – and also happens to be the school that the Park- McCullloughs helped build . I went to the Park-McCullough House for a field trip at Christmastime . When I walked through the doors , I was instantly enamored . It was a feast for the senses . The mansion was gloriously decked out for the holidays with a giant Christmas tree , and the smell of cloves , pine , and oranges will never escape me . I fell in love with the Park-McCullough house then and there , and it ’ s been a lifelong love affair ever since .”
Christopher reveals that as he grew older , the Park McCullough house ended up playing an even larger role in his life . “ 30 years after I first visited the Park-McCullough estate in fourth grade , I had my first date on the property with my now fiancée Amanda . I actually also proposed to her inside of the mansion . We ’ ll be getting married there this year . I feel so grateful to have been able to experience those moments here at all of the different stages of my life . I feel like I ’ m more than just the Executive Director of the Park-McCullough Historic Governor ’ s Mansion – it has really become an integral part of my life story .”
As Executive Director , Christopher has heard comparable stories from many other Southern Vermont residents and visiting tourists , who express similar feelings of connection to the Park- McCullough estate . “ There are so many people who , like me , have intimate life stories that involve the mansion . They come from all different generations and backgrounds . One person shared fond memories of playing with the McCullough kids when they were growing up . Another woman told me that she was a nurse who took care of the last Park-McCulllough family member to live at the property , Bess McCullough . One couple came in and told me that they got married here in 1982 . They had so many beautiful
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