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The Little Red Schoolhouse

The Rotarians of the 37th District (now District 7870) voted to take an option on the property known as the Old Chapel Building, erected in 1818 by James Rustin the great-grandfather of Paul Harris. A committee of eight members- Herman W. Vaughn Rutland, Vt.; John C. Fox, Rutland, Vt.; Thomas C. Cheney, Morrisville, Vt.; Hon. John E. Weeks, Middlebury, Vt.; Leandor Parkhurst, Concord, N.H.; R. A. McKelvey, Whitefield, N.H.; Rowland B. Jacobs, Lebanon, N.H.; and Rev. Walter Thorpe, Brandon, Vt. were appointed to organize a permanent organization to purchase, hold and control the property in Wallingford, Vermont. This committee became the first trustees of the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc.. The building and lands were purchased in two deeds in 1928. The first deed from the First Congregational Church was dated August 17, 1928 and recorded in the Land Records of the Town of Wallingford, Vt. in Book 23, at Page 519 and the second deed Nellie and Henry B. Adams, husband and wife, and Harry B. Townsend recorded in said Land Records in Book 23, at Page 532, on December 14, 1928.

On September 5th 1928 The Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. was legally organized for the following purposes among others:

To establish and maintain in said Wallingford, reading and writing rooms, libraries, museums, archives, antheneums, places of meeting and assembly, education and entertainment, rest and recreation; To collect and receive, accept and administer for altruistic and charitable purposes alone any and all funds, money, securities, property
and estates subscribed, donated, given, granted, devised, bequeathed or otherwise devoted to the TESTIMONIAL to Paul P. Harris as the founder of Rotary International which is the principal object of this corporation.

In addition to the foregoing ideas and to make the project exemplify the spirit of Rotary it is proposed to expand the original plan to include a trade school for boys.

An old fashioned lantern, in the hands of an old man, has become the symbol in our eyes of the light that guided Paul Harris. Thus the light placed over the entrance was placed as a beacon light to many a lad in his upward climb to life and light and useful service among men.

The deed from the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. to the Officers of the Wallingford Rotary Club (Guido S. Malcarne, Donald E. Mead, and William B. McLaughlin) dated August 29, 1947 in the Town of Wallingford, Vt. Land Records in Book 27 at Page 472.

February 13, 1953 a letter was mailed to Rotary International requesting an annual allotment for the maintenance of the Paul P. Harris Building or if this was impossible for Rotary International to furnish advice relative to a plan of endowment that would insure the preservation of the Building.

On May 11, 1953 the Wallingford Rotary Club received word that the Board of Directors for R. I. had rejected the requests made by the club.

On February 6, 1956 the Wallingford, Vermont Club voted to contact the Wallingford Selectmen in regard to disposal of the Rotary Building. It was discussed with the Selectmen that the club was having financial difficulty operating and maintaining the building. At the conclusion of the meeting the members of the club were to contact the Selectmen at a later date to further discuss the building. No further reference can be found about this matter, as far as what transpired.

The District Trustees for the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. had not functioned properly, as they had not held an annual meeting or elected officers for many years, so the membership of the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Incorporated petitioned the Superior Court in Rutland, Vermont on August 1, 1960 for an order authorizing the holding of an annual meeting of the said Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Incorporated at the Wallingford Rotary Club building in the Town of Wallingford, County of Rutland and State of Vermont at a future date at 7:30 P.M. EDT, for the transaction of the following business:

Election of Officers of the Corporation.

2. Amendment of the Articles of Association of the Corporation by deleting from said Articles of Association the provision thereof relating to membership and substituting in lieu thereof the following provision relating to membership:

The Membership of the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Incorporated shall consist of all members of the Wallingford Rotary Club, Wallingford, Vermont whose membership in said Rotary Club is certified to by the Secretary of said Club.

3. To transact such other business as is necessary and proper.

The meeting warning was posted in the Rutland Herald and subsequently held in Wallingford, Vermont on December 16, 1963 at 7:45 P.M. and the Articles of Association were amended per the notice by the 16 members present who were members of the Testimonial.

Now as of July 1st each year the Officers and Directors of the Wallingford Club become the Officers and Directors of the Corporation.

Talks about financial support of the building commenced with Robert A. Manchester II, President of Rotary International on December 3, 1976 about financial support of the building. At a special meeting of the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. held December 20, 1976 a motion was made by Chester B. Eaton, Jr. and seconded by Irving Smith and passed unanimously:

Moved that the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. petition Rotary International for full financial support for the maintenance, upkeep and operation of the Paul Harris Memorial Building, Wallingford, Vermont. The Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. will maintain title to the property and will supervise use of the property in the furtherance of the ideals of Rotary.

The Board of Directors of Rotary International, at its February 1977 meeting considered this Resolution and agreed it will give favorable consideration to this proposal that Rotary International undertake financial support of the building subject to Rotary International obtaining clear title to and having control over the operation of the memorial building.

At the annual meeting of the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. held in Wallingford, Vermont on April 18, 1977 the following resolution was passed:

Be it hereby resolved that the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. will consider granting clear and free title to the Paul P. Harris Memorial Building in Wallingford, Vermont to Rotary International provided that suitable arrangements can be concluded that guarantee continued perpetual use of the building by the Rotary Club of Wallingford, Vermont.

Upon receipt of this resolution Rotary International agreed to support the building by paying for any difference in the income versus expense in the operating budget up to $3,000 annually, which was later raised to $4,000.

The club and District Building Committee have been working on attaining a clear title to the building through a series of volunteer lawyers, who were not productive.

The deed from the Paul P. Harris Testimonial, Inc. to the Officers of the Wallingford Club had three conditions and must be followed:

The Grantees herein are to hold title as Trustees for the Wallingford Rotary Club and for the sole use and benefit of said Wallingford Rotary Club.

The lands and premises described and conveyed herein are not to be used or devoted to any purpose for personal profit or gain, but are to be used solely in furtherance of the purposes for which they have already been used by the Grantor herein and in commemoration of the late Paul P, Harris.

In the event that any of the conditions herein are broken or in the event that the Charter of the Wallingford Rotary Club shall expire, then and either event title shall pass to the Town of Wallingford, Vermont, provided the said Town of Wallingford accepts the same, upon the condition that the lands and premises shall be used solely in commemoration of the late Paul P. Harris and not for any purpose for profit or gain; and in the event that said Town of Wallingford refuses to accept these lands and premises upon said conditions, then and in that event the Title shall revert to the Grantor.

On January 5, 1998 the Town of Wallingford, Vermont Select Board voted to give up all rights to the Rotary Building per condition 3 of the deed. The vote was 3 for, 1 against, 1 abstain. This can be found in Misc. Book 11 Page 271 Selectboard’s Meeting Minutes.

Provided by: DAVID BALLOU ASSISTANT GOVERNOR D-7870 of the Wallingford Rotary Club, 14 April 2006

The Little Red Schoolhouse is now owned by Rotary District 7870 Foundation Rotary Global History Fellowship made a grant of $3,800

The Little Red Schoolhouse
Editor: Swinford, Rachel
Posted on Aug 25 2009

The “Little Red Schoolhouse” in Wallingford, Vermont was built by the great-grandfather of Rotary International Founder, Paul P. Harris and is a living memorial to the ideal of “Service Above Self.” It was in this “little Vermont Valley” that the idea of Rotary first began. Nurtured by his grandparents’ and neighbors’ honesty, faith and goodwill towards their fellow man, Paul set forth to make his mark. He never forgot his Vermont roots and they are as much a part of Rotary today as they were in that Chicago office in 1905.

We are honored to have The Schoolhouse in District 7870. It is owned by the Rotary International District 7870 Foundation and maintained lovingly by the Wallingford Memorial Rotary Club. It contains banners from clubs on every continent and the oceans as well. As you enter, look at the left wall about two-thirds of the way down. You will see the banner of the Rotary Club that met aboard the S.S. France. The building is also full of Rotary memorabilia, historic documents and a bust of Paul Harris.

The “Changing of the Gavel” between the outgoing and incoming District 7870 Governors is held at the Schoolhouse during the last week of June each year. The Little Red Schoolhouse is open to all Rotarians and other visitors at the club’s weekly meeting on Mondays at 7:00 a.m. and at other times by advance notice to the club’s officers.

Rotarians everywhere should be grateful for all Wallingford Rotarians, living and deceased. They have dedicated innumerable hours and funds to the preservation of our Rotary heritage which we believe truly began right here in Wallingford Vermont.