Cold temperatures. Snowy weather. Ice. What complements these weather ailments better than a cup of coffee and warm fresh pastry from a locally owned bakery in a historic building? How about this one in Barre, VT near the Socialist Labor Party Hall?
Okay, so this bakery is not in operation, but it has an interesting history and much potential. It’s the subject of a UVM HP graduate student project this semester. Current student Fran Gubler shared the photos and historical information. Consider it another heart-bomb-worthy building.
Built in 1912-13, the bakery acted as an extension of the Union Co-Operative Store that was contained within the basement of the Socialist Labor Party Hall. Italian immigrants in the Granite Street neighborhood who worked in the granite quarries used the Labor Hall (and the bakery) as a meeting place where they had a lot of important discussions concerning the labor movement in the US in the early 20th century.
The bakery represented a structure that was created to meet the increasing demand for Italian breads and other baked goods in the neighborhood but also served as an indicator of the Italian community’s resiliency during that time in Barre. The bakery is a symbol of how the immigrant population supported themselves economically during a very difficult time. They actually produced their own currency with the arm and hammer label on it that was used to brand the baked goods!
If you haven’t come across Fran’s blog, Fran Over Medium Heat, you should read it. Fran’s writing combines personal essays with her love of baking in beautiful style, and she includes recipes at the end of every post. Whether about life, school, relationships or little things, I’m always able to relate. The way Fran explains it, life and cooking/baking are symbiotic. (It’s one of my favorite reads.)
Any takers on the historic bakery?