105 Chestnut Hill | Howard C. Rice & Family

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  • Howard C. Rice & Family

About

Throughout the last century, the place we today call Chestnut Hill, was the beloved home of the Rice family, whose creative, community-minded lives and spirits helped shape the identity of Brattleboro as the special place it is today. Brattleboro carpenter and musician Isaac Hines acquired the property in the early 1800s to build a reservoir to store water from an aqueduct fed by those springs on the hill. Hines later sold the property to George Crowell, who in 1865 gained fame publishing the popular “The Household” magazine. Crowell completed the aqueduct and reservoir and it became Brattleboro’s main water supply. Crowell set the property aside as a public park and named it Chestnut Hill because of its abundance of chestnut trees, which the citizens of Brattleboro enjoyed for 28 years. By 1912, Crowell had turned the waterworks over to his son, Christie B. Crowell, who had no interest in continuing the park and sold off the land but retained the waterworks, which the town later purchased.
Howard Crosby Rice
A young newspaper publisher Howard C. Rice and his wife Amy were among the first families to buy land in the former park. Their house at 105 Chestnut Hill still stands today. They resided there for 53 years, raising three children and countless animals, until their deaths in 1965, just nine days apart. Howard Rice was the first editor/publisher of The Brattleboro Daily Reformer, which printed its first edition in 1913 under the ownership of the Brattleboro Publishing Company, of which Rice was a shareholder. The newspaper was founded as the weekly Windham County Reformer in 1876 by Charles N. Davenport. Davenport’s son, Charles H. expanded the paper to five weekly editions including a state-wide Brattleboro Reformer, county and local editions of The Windham County Reformer; and separate Bennington, Vt. and Greenfield, Mass. editions. A long-time business partner of Rice’s, Ephraim Crane, bought the Reformer and its printing plant in 1903. That same year, Crane started Vermont Printing Company, which printed the newspaper until 1913 and then moved into book publishing.. In a memoir written for his family, Rice said the decision to publish a daily newspaper was bold for the time. “Despite the belief of many local residents that we were crazy in our view that Brattleboro would support a daily newspaper, plus our own ignorance of the technique of daily publishing, The Reformer did well from the outset.” Interestingly, another long-time editor and publisher of the Reformer, John S. Hooper married the Rice’s eldest daughter Marion in 1931 in the rose garden behind the house at 105 Chestnut Hill. John and Marion Hooper were co-publishers of the Stephen Daye Press, named after the first printer in the English colonies. The Hoopers worked together to build Stephen Daye Press into one of the best regional book publishers in New England.
Marion McCune Rice
Howard’s sister Marion McCune Rice was a World War I American Red Cross nurse for four years and wrote many letters home describing the war and took hundreds of photographs. A documentary film “An American Nurse at War” focuses on Marion Rice’s wartime experience. The film was produced by her grandnephew Stephen L. Hooper, a Brattleboro native who currently lives in Keene, N.H. Stephen Hooper narrates a separate podcast about Marion McCune Rice, who lived at 90 Chestnut Hill.
Howard C. Rice, Jr.
Howard and Amy’s son Howard C. Rice, Jr. and his wife France Chalufour Rice lived at 160 Chestnut Hill in a house closer to the Retreat Tower. Howard Rice, Jr. was appointed to the staff of Princeton University Library in 1948 and served as assistant librarian for rare books and special collections, with rank of associate professor, until his retirement in 1970. He also was a Rudyard Kipling scholar, dedicating much of his life to researching and collecting materials on the four years Kipling and his family lived in Vermont (1892-1896). Howard Rice, Jr. wrote several books on Kipling including “Rudyard Kipling in New England.” His research papers, originally housed at Marlboro College, are now at the University of Vermont library.

Tour Stop Location

105 Chestnut Hill, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301, United States

Research & Production

Audio Producer & Editor: Donna Blackney
Research/Script/Narration: Jacqueline Hooper
Recordings/Script Assistance: Lissa Weinmann
Voice of Amy Jones Rice: Shannon Ward
Voice of Howard C. Rice : Riley Goodemote

Music used:
‘Old Strange’ by Black Twig Pickers and Steve Gunn (freemusicarchive.org)
‘Wild Horse of Stony Point’ by Black Twig Pickers and Steve Gunn (freemusicarchive.org)
‘Fisher’s Hornpipe’ (traditional by James A. Fishar) Performed by Adam Boyce and Harold Luce. Archive recording courtesy of Vermont Folk Life Center
‘Not Drunk’ by The Joy Drops (freemusicarchive.org)
‘Dill Pickles’ by Heftone Banjo Orchestra (freemusicarchive.org)
‘Patriotic Songs of America’ by New York Military Band and the American Quartet (freemusicarchive.org)
‘Parisian’ by Kevin MacLeod (freemusicarchive.org)

Ongoing Development and Involvement:

As a community-created project, we encourage ongoing dialogue, questions, and engagement. If you would like to be involved in future developments, have information or a perspective that could deepen others' understanding of this topic, please contact us.

Photos & Video

  • <p>Crowley Park Reservoir on Chestnut Hill and Fresh Air house, 1910. Marion McCune Rice’s cottage at 90 Chestnut Hill was built on the site of this house. - courtesy Brattleboro Historical Society</p>
  • <p>Brattleboro Reformer publisher Howard C. Rice presses the button to start a test run on<br>a new press prior to the regular run of the daily newspaper in 1954. At left Paul Hescock,assistant pressman and veteran pressman Harold Jennings, are responsible for getting out The Reformer six days a week. (Oct. 1, 1954, Brattleboro Reformer Harold Asbury) - photo courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society</p> <p>\</p>
  • <p>Amy and Howard Rice outside their house on Chestnut Hill with Mt. Wantastiquet in the background. (Rice family photo)</p>
  • <p>This panoramic view of Chestnut Hill (circa 1914) shows the houses on the east side of the reservoir, listed by owner and date built (from left) Howard C. Rice, 1912-13; A.L. Pettee, 1913; H. Randall, 1914; Carl Cain, 1914; Dr. Wheeler, 1914, and William Richardson, 1914. (Rice family photo)</p>
  • <p>This panoramic view of Chestnut Hill (circa 1914) shows the houses on the east side of the reservoir, listed by owner and date built (from left) Howard C. Rice, 1912-13; A.L. Pettee, 1913; H. Randall, 1914; Carl Cain, 1914; Dr. Wheeler, 1914, and William Richardson, 1914. (Rice family photo)</p>
  • <p>Howard and Amy Rice’s home under construction on Chestnut Hill, circa<br>1912. (Rice family photo)</p>
  • <p>Howard C. Rice, Jr. and his wife France Chalufour Rice (next photo) lived in a house at 160 Chestnut Hill. Inside a dresser drawer in the house, Steve Hooper found Marion McCune Rice’s collection of WWI photographs and letters, all saved by his Uncle Howard, a librarian and researcher. (Rice family photos)</p>
  • <p>France Chalufour Rice (above) and her husband Howard C. Rice (previous photo) lived in a house at 160 Chestnut Hill. Inside a dresser drawer in the house, Steve Hooper found Marion<br>McCune Rice’s collection of WWI photographs and letters, all saved by his Uncle Howard, a librarian and researcher. (Rice family photos)</p>
  • <p>The young adult children of Howard and Amy Rice (from left) Marion, Howard, Jr. and Eleanor  outside the Chestnut Hill house where they grew up, circa 1930s. (Rice family photo)</p>
  • <p>Marion Stetson Rice and John S. Hooper were married in the rose garden behind 105 Chestnut Hill in 1931. The couple were owners of Stephen Daye Press. (Rice/Hooper family photo)</p>
  • <p>Marion McCune Rice served as a Red Cross nurse during World War I. During the four<br>years she was in France she wrote many letters to her brother and sister-in-law Howard<br>and Amy Rice, simply addressed Chestnut Hill, Brattleboro, VT.</p>
  • <p>“Friendship is a Sheltering Tree,” a collection of short stories by<br>Marion Rice Hooper, was published posthumously by her children. Quotes from this<br>book are used in this podcast. (Photo by Steve Hooper)</p>