Eagle Square Day Recalls a Piece of Shaftsbury History
The Shaftsbury Historical Society presents Eagle Square Day on Saturday, September 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. The event will be held at Governor Galusha’s Homestead at 3871 Route 7A in Shaftsbury, and feature speakers Ted Hopkins and Scott Link.
Hopkins will discuss the importance of the Eagle Square Company in the history of the US and in Shaftsbury, starting in 1817 with Silas Hawes, a blacksmith; the company’s most important patents; the growth of the business; and its manufacturing process. Ted is a gifted carpenter and world-reknowned tool collector and presenter who still uses some of the old tools he will talk about. Link is an authority on measuring tools, and will be reveal the evolution, variety and importance of the ruler.
Do you have an old tool, and have no idea what it is? Bring it with you to find out what it was used for and how much is it might be worth. Of special interest will be any Eagle Square or Stanley tool you might have.
The Eagle Square Company was one of Shaftsbury’s oldest, largest and longest-operating industries. Records indicate that after the War of 1812, a peddler stopped at Silas Hawkes’ blacksmith shop to have his horse shod and bartered steel sawblades as payment for services rendered. Silas welded the sawblades together to create a right angle, forming a carpenter’s framing square. The basic right angle is a vital component in construction, and the traditional wooden squares did not hold up; Hawes’ steel creation did! Hawes obtained one of the first US patents for it, and went into business with Stephen Whipple, who built the Old Stone Mill in 1823. The business had become the Eagle Square Company by 1835, and went on to successfully manufacture other innovative tools. In 1915, the plant was sold to Stanley Rule and Level Company of Connecticut, and became a division of Stanley Works, continuing to make precision hand tools until 2001, when Stanley Works closed the Shaftsbury plant, after nearly 200 years of existence.
In 2002, Friends of Eagle Square was established with a mission to create a museum to preserve Shaftsbury’s tool-making history and display Eagle Square’s machinery and products. Some machinery, tools, documents and artifacts have been preserved with the Shaftsbury Historical Society, but a museum has not been erected as yet; fundraising continues, and grants have been written and applied for, but as yet, none have been awarded. Visit shaftsburyhistoricalsociety.org to learn more.