Chester Hearse House Museum to open Oct. 28

For the first time, the refurbished Hearse House was open for visitors in summer of 2016, without the mini-museum. Telegraph file photo.

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After a three-year renovation, Chester’s new Hearse House Museum will open to the public at 3 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 28.

Visitors will be able to see Chester’s last horse-drawn hearse, its historic “house” that was saved from demolition then rehabilitated, and the new mini-museum created inside that features information about the hearse, the nearby Public Tomb, Brookside Cemetery, funeral customs of the times, and the renovation project. The adjacent Public Tomb, built around 1850, will also be open.

Chester’s horse-drawn hearse is moved into its restored house, home to a mini-museum that will feature the hearse and information about the building, hearse and funeral customs of the times. Photo provided.

While there are a few remaining hearse houses in Vermont, no other has been renovated and turned into a museum dedicated solely to one hearse, its use and mourning customs.

The opening celebration will take place at the white, clapboard Hearse House, located at the entrance to Brookside Cemetery across from the Chester Green.

Light refreshments will be served for the celebration of this almost three-year project. The $50,000+ project was initiated and managed by Chester Townscape, a committee of the Chester Community Alliance, a 501(c)3. It had the support of the Town of Chester, the Select Board and residents and businesses.  Chester Townscape is known for its seasonal beautification projects throughout the town.

Built circa 1830, the unheated Hearse House will be a seasonal attraction.  Its displays are currently arranged to allow for additional pictures and information that are anticipated to surface. Those with additional information are urged to contact Suzy Forlie at 875-3634 or Lillian Willis at 875-1340.

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