More than a hundred years ago, Barre experienced a period of growth and optimism. They had just built a new school and library, and seen a population boom.
"It's really a symbol of Barre's booster feeling-- they really felt good about themselves, and so they wanted to crown the firehouse," explains Jackie Calder of the Vermont History Center.
Friday, they made a permanent home for that piece of prosperity at the Vermont History Center.
The weathervane used to stand guard from the top of the Barre firehouse. It was removed in the 1980s when officials feared it would be stolen, and put on public display in the library. But few realized it's worth outside of the memories it sparked. All that changed when an antiques dealer approached officials with an offer to buy the weathervane.
"Just putting numbers through my head, real quick, this gentleman is offering us $550,000-$600,000, it has to be worth more than that," says Barre Fire Chief Peter John.
The move sparked a debate in Barre-- sell the weathervane and use the money to fund city projects, or hold onto it as a symbol of times past. Even though the offer for the weathervane rose as high as $1.4 million, city officials decided the piece was worth more to the community as a reminder of their history.
"I think the council, as well as the mayor, simply felt that our heritage and our pride wasn't for sale. Not for sale at any price," says Mayor Thom Lauzon.
The city decided to move the beaten copper piece to the Vermont History Center, where the security was tighter and more people would see it.
"And if you just think that sat on top of that fire station through fires, through disasters, through floods, and it just sat there all the time," marvels Chief John.
And now thanks to the efforts of the city, the weathervane will stay in Barre, no matter which way the wind blows.
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