Bennington Preserved

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Wearying but still caught up in his task, Weichert was joined in his project by a vigorous and much younger enthusiast of local history and its interpretation to the public, Tordis Ug Isselhardt. A 1958 graduate of Bennington College, with an M.A. from Middlebury College, she had extensive experience in preservation and museum work.She started a business with Weichert, called the Weichert-lsselhardt Collection, Images from the Past, and together they bought a house on Main Street simply to house the photographs. Isselhardt worked to catalogue and conserve the material. She continued after her partner’s death in 1983, supporting her project by giving entertaining lectures and slide shows all over the state and selling high-grade prints from the collection.

If you pass through Bennington, as my wife and I did last year, and if you take a meal in the fine restaurant housed in the disused Bennington railroad station, you will see more of the Weichert-lsselhardt Hoard, handsomely enlarged on the walls. That is how we found it and heard from the collector’s own lips this statement of her self-imposed mission: “To help people transcend the barriers of time and place to understand any community or culture as the expression of its people.”

Chew on that a moment. I think I am for it. If you want to know more, go to Bennington’s “Four Corners,” where the Molly Stark Trail crosses what I call “the Ethan Alien Trail,” and head a couple of blocks west on Main Street. Tordis Isselhardt’s place is across from the big church. She’s still collecting, has plans for a book, and the play called Bennington goes on.

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