The banisters in Manor Vail (above) and reinstalled in the TN Vail Museum.

New Exhibit in Vail Museum Features Original Balcony Railings

Remarkable Story to be Featured on Across the Fence

September 18, 2014

Shirley Jenks Kent (class of ’56) and Michael Thurston ’74, members of the college’s Manor Vail Society, will be the guests on Across the Fence, a television broadcast produced by the University of Vermont’s Extension Service. The episode will air on WCAX-TV, Channel 3, on Monday, September 22 at 12:15 p.m.; WCAX reporter Judy Simpson will host the program.

Kent and Thurston will be joined on the program by Steve Tillotson, an architectural salvage and antiques broker, to discuss the recovery of the mahogany arcaded balustrade—the balcony railings—from the north tower library in T.N. Vail’s mansion. The LSC campus sits on the former site of Vail’s summer estate in Lyndonville, Vt., which became home to the college in 1951. Vail was the founder and first president of AT&T.

Two years ago, members of the Manor Vail Society (MVS) appeared on Across the Fence to announce the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the Vail Museum at LSC. During that broadcast, members of the MVS asked viewers to contact them if they had any artifacts, photographs, home movies, documents and ephemera relating to the mansion, the Vail era at Lyndon State College (1951-1974), or materials relating to the history of the college.

Steve Tillotson of East Corinth, Vt., was watching that day, and immediately thought of a quantity of unusual architectural salvage he had purchased just a few weeks earlier in Lyndonville. Among that salvage were some unusual, curved railings with uprights and arched tops made of mahogany.

Could those railings have been a part of Manor Vail?

Steve called the LSC alumni office, the MVS was alerted, and they verified that indeed, these were the railings from T.N. Vail’s personal library.

The MVS acquired the railings from Tillotson and a portion has been installed in the Vail Museum in an exhibit that will debut September 27 as part of LSC’s Homecoming and Family Weekend celebrations.

Kent and Thurston will also discuss the publication of The Destruction of Vail: End of an Era at Lyndon State College on Across the Fence. The book presents a large number of photographs that document the demolition of the mansion. These photographs were unknown to MVS until 2012, when LSC alumnus Russell Bailas ’74 approached them with color slides he had taken in the fall of 1974 when the mansion had to be torn down. The book launch will be held as part of LSC’s September 27th alumni events.

The T.N. Vail Museum is on the third floor of LSC’s Vail Center, next to the Admissions Office. For more information, visit http://www.vailmuseum.org, or call the LSC alumni office at 802 626-6426.

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