Jeff Silvernale Interview:
This is file 95. This is jean McMillen. I am interviewing Jeff Silvernale on anything connected to Lime Rock. Today’s date is June 1, 2015. We’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
JS:August 15, 1955
JM:Where were you born?
JM:Your parents’ names?
JS:Donald Edward Silvernale and Eleanor Lillian Silvernale
JM:What was her maiden name?
JS:Her adopted name was Goodale.
JM:Do you have siblings?
JS:One younger brother Gregory Edward.
JM:What was your educational background?
JS:I went to Salisbury Central School and Region #1. I did some other stuff also.
JM:Who were your grandparents?
JS:Joseph Silvernale and Frances Silvernale.
JM:Where did they live?
JS:#5 White Hollow Road, Lime Rock
JM:The reason I asked you that is because you were living in Salisbury originally and you moved to Lime Rock, correct?
JM:Why did you move to Lime Rock?
JS:We needed commercial property.
JM:When did you move to Lime Rock?2.
JM:Tell me about your father’s business.
JS:He was in construction, bulldozers and backhoes, heavy equipment.
JM:He bought land in Lime Rock?
JS:Yes. He bought land from Don Evans and Virginia Ward.
JM:He bought about 26 acres?
JS:Roughly 26 acres.
JM:When did he build his house?
JS:We moved into the Post Office/General Store and converted that into our house. We lived there until 1969 when he built the house up on the hill (440 Lime Rock Road).
JM:Where you live now?
JS:I live above that.
JM:did he work at the cemetery at all?
JM:What did he do? Was he a sexton?
JS:Yes, he and I were both sextons. We started working in the cemetery in 1982.
JM:Tell me a little bit about growing up in Lime Rock. What did you do? Did you have a paper route?
JS:Yes, I had a paper route.
JS:No, Waterbury Republican paper I delivered it every morning before school. I would hop on the bike and go door to door to deliver the papers between the doors or whatever. I had most of Lime Rock; actually my brother took half of it. I was part of Boy Scouts, too, and did whatever with Boy Scouts
JM:When did you start working with your dad?
JS:Don’t ask. When I was 5 years old?
JM:Yeah, I had one of those too.3.
JS:You are old enough to sit on my lap, you can operate the machine.
JM:When your feet don’t reach the pedals, they put on blocks!
JS:Training blocks! I worked through the summer, vacations from school.
JM:Do you carry on the heavy construction business? Or do you do other things besides?
JS:I do other things. During the winter months, we would do renovation work. I took over that side of the business, and doing renovation and handyman.
JM:You plow and you mow.
JM:You have been on the cemetery board since 2000?
JS:No, since 1982
JM:Did you ever drive a school bus?
JM:Oh lucky you. How many years did you do that?
JS:About ten years
JM:That’s enough! Now I am going to make your life interesting. We are going to do route 112 house by house. We are going to start going west (toward the high school and route 7). We are going to start with the green building that is on the corner of Salmon Kill Road. It used to be Wanda’s Package store (now Still Photography by Patricia Decker). What can you tell me about that in relation to your family?
JS:Wanda’s Package store: my father managed it when it was the package store for a number of years and a cousin helped him out, too.
JM:That was Wanda Lorenzo?
JM:Then we go up Old Furnace Road and there is an 1830 brick building that is called the Holley Coffing House. What connection did that have with the Barnum and Richardson Iron Company? Wasn’t that the store and Manager’s residence and office?
JS:I think so.
JM:At one time.
JM:Then we are going to come back down to route 112 and there is a bridge over the Salmon Kill but that bridge came in after the flood of 1955, didn’t it?
JS:On the Salmon Kill?
JM:No I am sorry, No, I am wrong. How about the Salmon Kill Bridge? (Historical sign marker for Lamb’s Forge near that bridge). When did that come in, do you know?
JS:It has been there as long as I have since 1960, but it has been redone.
JM:It has been redone? (See Val Bernadoni’s interview file #89)
JS:Yes, it was a one and one half lane bridge before; then they widened it.
JM:The Bridge on 112 is the one what was put in after the flood.
JS:That went out during the 55 flood.
JM:I got my bridges wrong. Now we are still going on the left side of the road, past the 112 bridge is a large white building. I believe that was the Barnum & Richardson Office. That is where the bookkeeper was.
JS:Yes, and the safe and all that is in there.
JM:Next to it is a small house, and then next to that is another white building which used to be the library?
JS:It is a red building, or it was once red. Yes, it was the library.
JM:We are going up the hill. There is a sign at the end of the driveway that says “Time Out”. That used to be a Richardson mansion?
JS:Yes, the Time Out Foundation is a foundation for therapy with horses. (See David McArthur tape #145)
JM:Next to that driveway is large red building that the Kellers own and that was called the Casino.
JM:What was the Casino for?
JS:They had a stage, movies. When the Wallaces lived there, they had Belgian tapestries.
JM:It wasn’t gambling: it was like a community center.
JM:The next house is called “The Surrey”.5.
JM:That used to be owned by Mrs. Pat Kowalski.
JS:It is still. Pat Kowalski still lives there.
JM:It was a restaurant in the 1950’s?
JS:Yes, Viola Baton used to own it and it was a restaurant/tavern type of place.
JM:Then we have the new C&M Electric house that has just been finished. Then we have the Lime Rock General Store that has the sign on it.
JS:Right they have made that into a residence. It is commercial land, but yes.
JM:Then there is the Northwest Classic Car showroom which used to be the property of the Barnum mansion”Hephzivalla” which burned.
JS:Yes, it burned in the late 1920’s.
JM:As you look at that building the triangular glass windows used to be Bob Evans Glass Shop?
JS:Don Evans Glass Shop
JM:Next we come to what I am going to call a Painted Lady which is a Victorian house.
JS:There is another Victorian house before that. That is where Don Evans and Virginia Ward lived there. It was all one property that we bought from them. They moved to Gt. Barrington. Part of Ward’s Nursery.
JM:What relation to Donald Ward?
JS:Mother? I don’t know.
JM:It would be his sister because I had his sister in high school. I’ll work on that.
JS:Yes, I want to know!
JM:The Painted Lady that I am referring to is Martha Miller. That was the home N. A. McNeil who was the bookkeeper for Barnum & Richardson. He started Wagner & McNeil Insurance Company which is now Founders.
JM:Then there is the Trinity Church rectory building, and then we have Trinity Church which I have an oral history on that church. (See Geoffrey Brown File # 96) We are at Dugway Road. Now we are going to go across the road and we are going to go back on the other side.
JM:So far you are doing very well! We have the Lime Rock Race Track (See Skip Barber file #94) Next there are 5 large 1870 houses in a row. This was part of the company town.
JM:Then we have 3 small Greek Revival houses probably for the workers; this is still part of the company town.
JM:Then we have a building that has kind of a curves eyebrow roof. It is blue I think. It was a barbershop. Do you remember it then at all?
JS:I remember the barber pole which is still there, yes.
JM:Next to that is a 2 bay building. It used to be an apartment, when I knew it. But before that it was the Amundsen General Store and Post Office. (See Alice Gustafson Tape #103,119). Everybody used to hang out there.
JM:Then you have Forge Lane. I am assuming it was called Forge Lane because that is where the iron forge was.
JM:Then you have a large white building that was called the Rocky Dell, now it is called the Lime Rock Lodge. It was a hotel; it is now what?
JS:It is an apartment house.
JM: That is where the workers lived or some of the workers lived for the Barnum & Richardson Company, originally.
JS:My grandmother and my uncle worked there in the kitchen and waiting on table when it was a hotel.
JM:Now we are going to do a little bit of White Hollow Road. Your grandparents lived in the blue house #5 and that is where Lee Collins now lives. Across from that is the sign for Barnum & Richardson Iron works.
JM:Then you go around the curve and there are all sorts of buildings that may have been part of General Semantics?
JS:On the inside curve on the in the right hand side was General Semantics.7.
JM:Do you have any knowledge of what that was?
JS:I really don’t know what it was; I knew the people living there.
JM:Nobody knows! I have even asked Geoff Brown, and he didn’t know!
JS:They are buried in the cemetery, I have seen their burials. There was another house there that burned which was a Richardson mansion.
JM:We are going to go back to 112 to the curve the sign says Brent and it was Lime Rock School.
JM:It was a dress shop at one time?
JS:Girlie Eldridge’s dress shop.
JM:You have done a marvelous job! That was the hard part. Tell me about the Lime rock Lighting District. When did that start?
JS:I don’t know when it started, but it was there when we moved into town in 1960’s. We knew we had a lighting district.
JM:We’ll start with that then.
JS:We would get annual post cards for dues for the street light in front of your house. Once a year they would have a meeting. We started going to meetings about 1980, not on the board. My father did anyway. I did as well. Lee Collins was President at one point. Then they wanted to change the lighting from incandescent bulbs to halogen or something, mercury vapor lights so we let CL&P take over the lights.
JM:Which is now Frontier?
JM:Did everybody in Lime Rock belong to the Lighting District that had a light in front of their house?
JS:It was based on the footage along the main street what your lighting bill. If you had 50 feet, you would pay whatever 50 feet was. If you had 25 feet it would be less. No everybody paid the same amount.
JM:Do you remember what the dues were?
JS:Not much about $5.00 or something? It really wasn’t large.
JM:So now that Eversource has taken it over, do you still pay dues?8.
JS:We all pay now.
JM:Now I am going to switch to the Lime Rock Cemetery Board. The Lime Rock Cemetery is not connected to Trinity church.
JS:Yes, that is correct.
JM:Do you have an annual Meeting?
JM:How many are on the committee?
JM:Who is Chairperson or President?
JS:Right now it is Martin Whalen. Lisa Keller is probably Treasurer/Secretary. That job sort of blends together.
JM:What do they do? What are they responsible for?
JS:They do finances to keep the money from the Barnum & Richardsons that have donated years ago. They keep us all in funds and try to work with the funds that they have. WE use just the interest.
JM:I notices that that dead pine tree was taken down that was in the cemetery right on the road.
JM:So they provide the funds to maintain the cemetery.
JS:We maintain the cemetery we pay for the mowing, repairs, water lines, and sink holes.
JM:Do you do anything about the wall that surrounds it?
JS:We get it repaired.
JM:It is not a mortised wall, is it?
JS:No it is just laid stone.
JM:This is totally off the track. What is the Hollenbeck Club?
JS:It was a hunting club.
JM:I think it was, hunting and fishing. Was it started by Barnum and Rrichardsons or…?
JS:I think it was.
JM:Is there anything about Lime Rock that I haven’t asked you that I should have? I put you through the wringer on this one, I know.
JS:It wasn’t like it was a real town. I mean everything got moved to Lakeville or Salisbury. There are no parades and stuff like that. The Post Office closed probably in the early 1960’s and moved to Lakeville.
JM:There are no food shops.
JM:Was there ever a food shop that you know of other than the Amundsen’s store.
JS:Falls Village was the closest one for groceries.
JM:Do you like living in Lime Rock?
JS:It is a nice community. It is for the most part quiet.
JM:Yeah except for the race track.
JM:But it is only on weekends.
JS:It is quiet. It is very nice. It is a beautiful community.
JM:Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.