Concord Historical Society Connects with Abbot-Downing Historical Society
Results in acquisition of Concord Coach No. 306 from Waitsfield, Vermont
On August 23, 2017, the following email message was received in the Concord Historical Society general mailbox (email@example.com) :
Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, Waitsfield Vermont: We have the original Concord stage (restored) that was used by JJ Kelty, and ran between Waitsfield and Middlesex Vermont. Prior plans to build a timeline museum in Waitsfield, left us with this piece and it has been stored inside a temperature controlled room on a support frame so the wooden wheels are not being stressed. We are looking for someone who has room to display this fine piece, and have had no luck. Do you have any ideas?
Richard Osborne, who replies to or refers the many inquiries sent to the “info” mailbox for the Society, forwarded the message to Peter James of the Abbot-Downing Historical Society. About two and a half months later, in early November, Osborne received the following email from Peter James:
On Friday, August 25th, I contacted Eric Haskin and Tom Little and I went to Waitsfield that day to check out the coach and put in our desire to acquire it. Eric said he would get back to me and on Monday morning, he called and left a message that said they had decided to “transfer” the coach to the Abbot-Downing Historical Society! I did not want to jinx the deal and have kept quiet until the coach was actually in Concord.
Getting the coach from Waitsfield to Concord has taken almost two months of planning and getting everyone involved to have an available day when the weather cooperated. That day was October 17th. A crew from here went up with two trucks and two trailers to bring back the coach and all the wheels ( there are two set of wheels). It was a long day, but the coach is now back in Concord. In order to fit it into the building where it was being stored, the wheels have been removed and the coach is on a steel cradle, not unlike what you would do with a boat. After the wheels have been put back on. the coach will go to Hopkinton to join the other two.
We are working towards a museum in Concord and as the collection grows and we concentrate on Abbot & Downing vehicles, the collection is really becoming “world class”. In addition to the three coaches, we have about 10 or 12 A-D vehicles dated back to before 1820 and up to near the end of production.
I want to thank you for your help in getting this really great addition to the collection.
The coach is Abbot-Downing’s No. 306, and it traveled the Mad River Valley route from Waitsfield to Middlesex to under the ownership of J. J. Kelty in the 1800s. It found its way to the ownership of The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, but was damaged while on loan to another museum. The Henry Ford granted the coach to the Haskin family, owners of Waitsfield Telecom, the local telephone company in Waitsfield, Vermont. Plans were made to place the coach in a museum to be established in Waitsfield, but those plans were not carried through, leading the Haskin family to explore where it might be permanently displayed and cared for. That in turn led to the transfer to the Abbot-Downing Historical Society.
The Abbot-Downing Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation of vehicles manufactured by the Abbot-Downing Company in Concord, and to education about the company’s history, from its founding and creation of the famed Concord Coach in the 1800s to its manufacture of motorized fire engines and trucks in the early 1900s. Originally named the Concord Coach Society in 1977, the organization changed its name to the Abbot-Downing Historical Society in 2011. It’s website is www.concordcoach.org.
Here is a photo of Coach No.306 before it left Waitsfield and was brought to Concord by the Abbot-Downing Historical Society: