Barre’s historic Socialist Labor Party Hall (The Old Labor Hall) may be closed due to Covid-19, but the Barre Historical Society will still celebrate Primo Maggio (May 1) with the launching of the latest addition to its Website. “Thomas C. Davis: A Life in Vermont” is a tribute to the Barre-born former Vermont Secretary of Human Services, long-time public servant, and BHS board member, who died in 2017. The site will be publicly accessible on May 1 at 1 AM. The Web address is oldlaborhall.org/thomas-c-davis-a-life-in-vermont/.
The Davis site features 18 audio segments drawn from 25 hours of recorded interviews conducted by site producer Mark Greenberg from 2013 to 2015 along with family and historic photographs, a brief biography, and Greenberg’s introduction to the project. Topics range from family history, to reminiscences of Barre, baseball, politicians, and public service. Along with personal memories, Davis reflects on Vermont’s transformation from a largely rural and Republican state to a more cosmopolitan and Democratic one.
Davis was widely admired for his wit, humility, wisdom, and generosity. As the audio segments demonstrate, he was also an engaging and thoughtful story-teller.
According to the late Vermont Governor Phil Hoff, “Tom dedicated his life to helping others… He served my administration with distinction and great success… Tom has a keen sense of the importance and significance of various historical events.”
Stephen Perkins, Executive Director of the VT Historical Society, adds that “the range of Mr. Davis’ experience is quite impressive, and his well-recorded interviews provide a unique, thoughtful, and educationally valuable perspective on many aspects of Vermont history.”
“Tom called our sessions ‘interviews,’” Greenberg notes in his introduction, “but little interviewing was necessary… I’d ask a question, and off he’d go, speaking freely, keenly, and with gentle humor, while I mostly just sat and listened… Tom had a prodigious memory and genuinely cared about the people who had passed through his lifetime of public service—whether a governor, a teacher, a granite worker, or an interviewer.”
The Barre Historical Society had planned to hold a public event at the Labor Hall as part of its Primo Maggio celebration to launch the site. “We still plan to hold an event for Tom’s family, friends, and the public after the Hall can re-open,” says BHS President, Ruth Ruttenberg. “For now, the soft launch will help us honor not only Tom but also May Day, as the Hall’s granite worker founders did with the first Primo Maggio celebration in 1901.” The BHS revived the annual celebration in 2004.
As with the parent Old Labor Hall site, the Davis site is free to the public, though donations to the Hall, which has suffered a significant loss of rental income due to Covid-19, are welcome.