JonProctorHistorianSTORY

Local historian Nancy Hunter Kennedy stands by the plaque over the door of a room dedicated to her at the Proctor Free Library last week.

PROCTOR — For decades, anyone wanting to know something about the town’s past hasn’t had far to go.

“I come to the library every day,” said Nancy Hunter Kennedy. “I love Proctor, I love history.”

Kennedy is the one people go to see at the Proctor Free Library when they want to know things like where their grandfather lived when he worked for the former Vermont Marble Company. Kennedy has spent 30 years of her life establishing the library’s Vermont Room, a collection of Proctor-centric records and artifacts, many connected to the former Vermont Marble Company that essentially built the town and has defined much of its history.

On Monday, Kennedy was surprised to find the library so crowded and several members of her family there, in addition to the Vermont Room now being named the “Nancy Hunter Kennedy Vermont Room.”

“Oh my,” she said when Mary Fregosi, president of the library’s Board of Trustees presented her with the new sign, which was promptly installed over the door.

“Nancy, we’re here today to recognize you and to say thank you for the countless hours you have devoted to gathering and preserving the history of our town,” said Fregosi, during a brief ceremony. “For 30 years you have been a tireless worker, committed to anything Proctor, from large items to small, whether a piece of the original Gorham Bridge or Post Office, to a sample of unpolished verde antique that you personally collected from the quarry to the many postcards, pictures and recorded interviews.”

Many people who worked for the Vermont Marble Company in its heyday lived in duplexes owned by the company. It kept records of who lived where. These documents survive today and are housed in the Vermont Room, along with countless similar records. Kennedy is credited with spearheading efforts to not only gather documents and artifacts, but with cataloging them so people can find what’s there.

“You’ve been an excellent resource about Proctor, not only the town and Vermont Marble Company history, but just as important, the personal histories of people who once lived here,” said Fregosi. “For the many folks who write inquiring about their ancestors, to those who stop by, you always take the time to search out information for them. You’ve assisted students both high school and college as well as professors with their research, directing them to primary sources that enhance their work.”

Kennedy said her father worked for the Vermont Marble Company. She returned to Proctor where she’s from about 30 years ago, and in her retirement focuses her time on the library. She said Monday she’s helped numerous people over the years, from as far off as Sweden, learn more about their ancestors through records kept in the room now named for her.

She said the room was a bit scattered when she, former librarian Barbara Burns, and her friend, Elaine Purdy, began organizing everything.

“I think I just slid into it,” she said. “When I first came back 30 years ago, that room, the Vermont Room, was just full of old papers, pictures, that people had given over the years, but no one had really done anything with it.”

Kennedy said she’s followed Proctor’s history over many years and isn’t sure where the town is headed but is hopefully the redevelopment efforts at the former Vermont Marble Company buildings will be successful. She said after World War II, interest in marble as a primary building material waned, and along with it the company’s fortunes. At 90, she said she has no plans to leave Proctor anytime soon and still has some work to do at the library.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com

This article has been corrected to show that Nancy Kennedy's father worked for the Vermont Marble Company.

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