Embracing history: Exciting offerings at the Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion

By Jennifer Brandt, Vermont Country correspondent.

NORTH BENNINGTON — The Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion, nestled in the heart of New England, has long been a beacon of Victorian elegance and historical significance. Under the guidance of newly appointed museum director Polly Raine, the mansion is set to unveil exciting new offerings that promise to enrich the visitor experience and deepen community engagement.

Polly Raine’s journey with the Park-McCullough House Association Inc. began in June 2023, when she assumed the role of interim operations manager. Recognizing her exceptional contributions, the Board of Trustees proudly announced Polly’s promotion to the position of museum director. As director, Polly will collaborate with the board to shape the organization’s strategy for the next five years. Her responsibilities include overseeing the house museum and collections, developing educational offerings, crafting a comprehensive communications and marketing strategy, managing the membership program, and nurturing community relationships.

Completed in 1865 by attorney and entrepreneur Trenor Park with his wife Laura van der Spiegle Hall, the Park-McCullough Mansion is a testament to Victorian grandeur and architectural excellence.

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Photo provided by Park-McCullough House Association.

Over the years, the mansion has been home to Vermont governors and business magnates, welcoming distinguished guests, including a U.S. President. Today, it remains one of New England’s finest examples of Second Empire-style architecture, meticulously preserved to honor its rich heritage.

The estate’s history is deeply intertwined with the lives of the Park and McCullough families, who played pivotal roles in shaping the regional landscape. The family’s influence and philanthropy helped to shape town infrastructure, rail service (local, national, and across borders), local and national politics, banking, law, higher education, the arts, and social services. From Trenor Park’s ambitious endeavors in California to Lizzie McCullough’s renovations in 1889 to 1890 to host President Benjamin Harrison, each chapter of the mansion’s story reflects the enduring legacy of its occupants.

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An interior doorway in the Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion. Photo provided by Park-McCullough House Association.
©David Morelos Zaragosa_The Fund for North Bennington trails-Bennington-Vermont
The Mile-Around Woods, a private preserve dedicated to conservation and agricultural uses, is open to the public for walking during daylight hours. Photo provided by David Morelos Zaragoza.

Under Polly Raine’s leadership, the Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion is set to unveil a series of new offerings and initiatives designed to engage visitors and foster a deeper appreciation for its rich history.

People enjoy an event from the lawn at the Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion. Photo provided by Park-McCullough House Association.

One of the exciting new offerings is a seasonal series program, allowing visitors to sign up for a whole season’s worth of themed activities such as wine and cheese on the veranda, afternoon tea, or a mixed-medium memoir series. Additionally, the mansion will host special exhibitions focusing on remarkable individuals like Sister Mary Veronica (born Ella Sally McCullough), shedding light on the often-overlooked stories of women in history.

The mansion will also launch educational initiatives in collaboration with local schools, including a partnership with Southshire Community School to establish a kitchen garden in the greenhouse.

This hands-on project will provide students with valuable learning experiences while promoting sustainable practices and healthy living.

courtesy_Park McCullough House Association
The lawn at the Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion provides a gathering space for events. Photo provided by Park-McCullough House Association.

The mansion will also offer plenty of entertainment in the coming season.

From movie nights to theater, nature walks, and plein air painting to live music and even a visit from Santa, the iconic gem will be a vibrant gathering place all year.

In addition to these new offerings, the mansion continues to rely on the support of volunteers and members to fulfill its mission. Volunteer opportunities abound, from assisting with afternoon teas to contributing to special events and exhibitions. Volunteers are rewarded with membership benefits, allowing them to immerse themselves in the mansion’s history while making meaningful contributions to their community.

©David Morelos Zaragoza_The Mile Around Woods
The Fund for North Bennington aims to preserve landscapes for the community to enjoy. Photo provided by David Morelos Zaragoza

Join the Park-McCullough House Association for exclusive events, discounts, and more.

Membership at the Park-McCullough House Association offers exclusive benefits, including access to special events, discounts on programs and merchandise, and the satisfaction of supporting a vital cultural institution. With membership levels tailored to suit every budget and interest, becoming a member is a rewarding way to engage with history and connect with fellow enthusiasts. For more information and to become a member, click here.

Historic Governor’s Mansion reopens with free community day event!

The Park-McCullough, Historic Governor’s Mansion, prepares to reopen its doors to the public on May 26 for Community Day, which will include free admission, a community lawn sale (reserve your spot to be a vendor!), food trucks, and lawn games. The community eagerly anticipates the return of cherished traditions and the unveiling of exciting new offerings. From tours of the opulent mansion to leisurely strolls through the beautiful gardens and scenic trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this beloved New England landmark.

So check out this year’s Park-McCullough calendar and upcoming events page, gather your friends and family, and prepare to be enlightened, engaged, and inspired at the Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion.

Jennifer Brandt is a born and raised Vermonter and a recent Brooklyn transplant. She has worked as a freelance writer and event coordinator for the past decade focusing on food and Intersection with social justice issues. She has combined her passion for food and sustainable food systems with her Indigenous heritage by creating a series with MOFAD celebrating North American Indigenous folks in the food world. When not touring cities and the back roads of the Vermont countryside in search of the endless array of food and culture, you can find her taking Instagram photos of her rescue pup Bagel.

Vermont Country magazine

Vermont Country has a hyperlocal focus on the Green Mountain lifestyle, its personalities, events, attractions and culture. The magazine appears six times a year, designed to complement the state and four-season living. VtCo magazine is a Southern Vermont publication of Vermont News & Media.

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