The Rices & the Brattleboro Reformer: Chestnut Hill Road
Howard C. Rice
Howard C. 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 and changed ownership three times before it became a daily.
In an historical memoir written for his family in 1958, 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,” Rice wrote. “…Readers accustomed to getting their local news in weekly doses were a bit skeptical of having to read it every weekday evening, but without too much resistance these habits changed.”
Interestingly, another long-time editor and publisher of the Reformer, John S. Hooper married the Rice’s eldest daughter Marion Stetson Rice in 1931 in the rose garden behind the house at 105 Chestnut Hill, which was built in 1912 for Howard Rice and his wife Amy Jones Rice, who resided in there until their deaths in 1965, just 9 days apart.
Marion McCune Rice
Marion McCune Rice. Photo courtesy of Stephen Hooper.
His 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, NH. In 1925 she was named director of the Simmons School of Public Health Nursing in Boston. She resided during the summers and retired in a small cottage on the opposite side of the reservoir at 90 Chestnut Hill until her death in 1955.
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 C. 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 wrote several books on Rudyard Kipling and his research papers are housed at the Marlboro College library named in honor of Howard C. and Amy Rice. Interestingly, another long-time editor and publisher of the Reformer, John S. Hooper married the Rice’s eldest daughter Marion Stetson Rice in the rose garden behind the house at 105 Chestnut Hill in 1931.
The "Crowell Cottage"/ Fresh Air Fund House
The cottage served as a "Fresh Air Fund" summer retreat for city children (largely sponsored by Mrs. Crowell and Mrs. Estey) The cottage was dismantled in 1912 as the Crowell's sold off "Highland Park" and turned the hill into building lots. The cottage was built as a shelter for park visitors and as a summer home for his family. For 4 summers young people from Brooklyn (through the Fresh Air Fund) filled the cottage, and then a NYC church used the cottage as a summer retreat for invalids and orphans.
Audio Producer: Donna Blackney
Research & Narration: Jackie Hooper
‘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