The McCulloughs Celebrate Vermont's Centennial
No history of Vermont would be complete without a description of the state's Centennial Celebration in 1891, held in conjunction with the Dedication of the Bennington Battle Monument. The events drew over 30,000 people, including the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. He came at the invitation of John G. McCullough, a resident of North Bennington, who later became governor of Vermont.
McCullough, who made a fortune in the aftermath of the Gold Rush in California, held numerous corporate directorships and was president of both the Chicago and Erie and the Bennington and Rutland Railroads. It was by rail from Boston that food for the 3,500 people who attended the banquet to celebrate the Centennial was transported. And it was by rail that President Harrison and his entourage arrived in North Bennington to stay with the McCullough family while visiting the Bennington area for the celebrations.
Mrs. McCullough was the former Eliza Hall Park, daugher of Trenor W. Park who built the House. Park's father-in-law, former Governor of Vermont, Hiland Hall, exerted a strong influence on the selection of the design for the Bennington Battle Monument although he did not live to see the dedication.
So important did the Bennington Battle Monument Association (BBMA) believe the state Centennial Celebration to be that they delayed the dedication of the Monument, completed in 1889, and its transfer to the state for another two years to coincide with the 1891 Centennial.
In the words of a newspaper editor of the day quoted by the historian of the Centennial Committee, Henry Leonard Stillson, "The history of Bennington is more largely the history of the State than that of any other single town. It was the first town organized, and the independent and courageous spirit there developed gave direction to the Commonwealth." (1)
(1) The Dedication of the Bennington Battle Monument, and Celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of the Admission of Vermont as a State, at Bennington, August 19, A.D., 1891 (Bennington: Banner Book, 1892), preface.