- What is Harmony? -


Welcome to the Harmony

The Harmony Lot Entrance from Elliot Street

The building at the right is the current home of Everyone's Books and the Common Ground taken some time around 1955.

 


A brief history of Harmony Place





Harmony Block - taken from approximately the back door of the Book Cellar

 

 

Harmony Block was built in 1874 by Edward Crosby, a wealthy flour merchant who was also credited with erecting the Crosby Block on the west side of Main Street. The fire of 1869 had leveled the heart of the downtown business district, between Elliot Street and High Street.  For several months the town tried to secure the funds or a suitable business investor, possibly from abroad, to rebuild the devastated section of Main Street. Edward Crosby, in partnership with another investor contributed the $100,000 plus to fund the project. Around the same time he put up the Market Block on Elliot Street across from brick church that now houses the Hotel Pharmacy. Edward Crosby later went on to serve in the Vermont Legislature.

The top floor of Harmony Block held a large hall with stairs that accessed it from the outside. It was frequently used as the location for town dances and other social functions and meetings and was dubbed Harmony Hall. This name is visible in larger versions of the above photograph which was probably taken sometime around 1930.

The Harmony Block is sometimes referred to as the Hildreth Building, named after the E.L.Hildreth Printing Company which got it's start at 8 Harmony Place and occupied a large part of the building beginning in 1890. Among many other businesses in the Harmony Block, was the J.D.Whitney Company which moved in around 1878 and began making organ reeds, probably for use in Estey Organs which were being manufactured across town. 

What's in a Name?

In an article from the Vermont Phoenix dated September 25th, 1874 it reports the official naming of Harmony Place. It goes on to suggest that his building and this place is an achievement which we can afford to look upon with pride. The Harmony Block was demolished, along with several other Harmony Place structures, sometime in the late 1950's, to make way for the Harmony Place Parking Lot. 

Well, that only partially explains how Harmony got it's name. We know who and when, but we're still unsure about why. There may be a clue in the April 2nd, 1890 obituary of Edward Crosby; it reads "he was connected for a time with a free religious movement in this place, but promptly withdrew when he found in what direction it was leading". Is this a clue to the inspiration for Harmony? It seems just as likely that he chose Harmony for it's apt reflection of the times in 1870. General U.S.Grant was the President and the country was still recovering from the Civil War, the temperance movement was gaining steam, and there are several accounts in the Phoenix about drunkenness and indecency plaguing society, Brattleboro in particular. On a cold day in January of 1867 a large gathering of citizens met at Town Hall to address the problems of "widespread profanity". In December of 1870, eight hundred townspeople turned out for a meeting of the Good Samaritan Society. In addition to all the concern and good feeling expressed by the citizenry, Brattleboro was also a famous center of health and well-being innovations. The town's curative water was known around the world and many spa and bath resorts sprang up in town. Another possible clue may be in the fact that of the eleven children that Edward Crosby and his wife had, when the Harmony Block went up, only four or five had survived. It was the passing of his precious daughter in early 1890 that proved to be too much for him to bear. Accounts indicate that his ability to conduct affairs and manage his family were "pathetic" after the death of his daughter. He died in 1890 of Pneumonia, helped along by his "broken heart". He was 74.

Was Edward Crosby just a health nut, maybe he was a religious fanatic or maybe he was longing for something that had eluded him in his personal life. It's also possible that Harmony is just a really nice name for a building. I know it's a great name for a place.

Let me know what you think... ~Bob Viens

We have a bunch of great Harmony Place Photos to share, soon...