SVMC Exhibit Celebrates Bennington’s Fire Department
The Corridor Art Gallery at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) has an exhibit celebrating the work of the Bennington Fire Department. Most of the Department’s members are volunteers, saving the village more than $3 million a year. The exhibit was researched and assembled by Beverly Petrelis on behalf of the Bennington Historical Society. The Fire Department has unique ties to the hospital because one of its four companies is the Putnam Hose Company, founded in 1887 by the same Henry Putnam who created the Putnam Hospital, which later evolved into the SVMC. The other three companies are the Eagle Hose Company, the Stark Hose Company and the Bradford Hook and Ladder Company. All recruits for the volunteer companies must be 21 or older, undergo a background check by the Chief of Police, and complete 280 hours of training within a year. For many years, the four different companies had their own fire houses, but they were merged into a single large fire house on River Street in 1997. Each company continues to have its own chief and two assistants, as well as a captain and a lieutenant. The current chief of the overall department is Jeff Vickers.
The Corridor Art Gallery was established in 1974 by Anne Knapp, who was a hospital trustee at the time. During most of the year it displays art, photographs and jewelry for sale, but for several months each winter it features displays by local nonprofit organizations. Among the exhibits now on display are those by the Hospital Auxiliary, the Career Development Center’s Medical Professions Program, the Bennington Rescue Squad, Oldcastle Theatre, Sunrise Opportunities, the local Foster Parents program, and The Learning Tree. There also are two displays by the Dollhouse and Toy Museum of Vermont, one featuring paper dolls and the other featuring downsized dollhouses and fairy houses.