• Important history on city’s playground
    December 11,2013
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    The recent talk at Rutland City Hall about the need to repair the pool at White Playground reminded me of the special provisions that went into the establishment of the fund that partially supports that playground.

    Mrs. White, who gave the funds that established that particular playground, was a widow living in the mansion on Main Street Park and Washington Street — the building that is now Clifford Funeral Home.

    There had been a swimming pool next to Rotary Field off North Main Street, but it was an above-ground structure several decades old and became very decrepit. In addition, the site did not have many other facilities nearby.

    When Mrs. White died, she left a considerable sum to be used for a new city recreation site. The executor of her will was R. Clarke Smith, a well-known Rutland attorney with the firm of Ryan, Smith & Carbine.

    The will had a special provision. Expenditure from that particular fund had to be approved by the executor, in every case. If city officials tried to spend a sum in some manner that the executor did not approve, everything in that particular fund was to revert to the Christian Science Church.

    Smith approved expenditures to establish the playground, and since his death, I think the successive executors have been in that law firm. I have a feeling that, except for the initial expense in establishing the park, what has been approved through the years has been the interest accrued annually from the fund. The bulk of the fund itself has remained intact.

    I was in the city clerk’s office the day Smith brought the White Fund document in to be filed. With a considerable amount of satisfaction, Smith said to me:

    “If you ever want a model for a document in which the executor has all the power, this is it.”

    A few decades ago, there was some talk at City Hall of dipping into the White Fund even if Smith didn’t agree. But the idea was dropped when the “kicker” in the initial agreement was made clear.

    However, I suspect that lawyers from the Christian Science Church have been keeping a fairly close watch to see if the successive trustees have always approved whatever was spent from the White Fund.

    Kendall Wild is a retired editor of the Herald.
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