Northern Vermont University is now part of Vermont State University! Please visit for accurate information.

Life in Chittenden County Premieres

Life in Chittenden County Premieres at JSC

December 9, 2008

The premiere of the history documentary “Life in Chittenden County” will be held in Stearns Cinema at Johnson State College, Tuesday, December 9, at 2:30 p.m.

A second screening will be held the following day at the Essex Outlets Cinema, Wednesday, December 10, at 7 p.m.

Both screenings are free and open to the public.

“Life in Chittenden County” is the fourth documentary produced by students in Professor Bill Doyle’s Vermont History and Government class at Johnson State College, in collaboration with editor/producer Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions in Waterbury. The other three documentaries, “Life in Lamoille County,” “Life in Franklin County” and “Life in Orleans County” received wide acclaim.

Like the other documentaries, “Life in Chittenden County” blends interviews and images of local people in the first half of the 20th century. More than 300 photographs provide a fascinating visual record of life in the county.

The premiere of “Life in Chittenden County” is the perfect prelude to the 400th anniversary in 2009 of the discovery of Lake Champlain by French explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, for whom the lake is named. The anniversary will be marked by year-long festivities and events along the lake and in Chittenden County.

Film coordinator, Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions in Waterbury, said life on the lake is included in the film. “We give a brief history of the lake, starting with when the lumber tariffs in the 1860s turned Burlington into the second-biggest lumber port on the east coast,” said Franke. “We cover how the lake became a transportation corridor in the days when the waterways were highways.”

Franke said the film also highlights Winooski and its enormous growth after the discovery of the Winooski Falls to power mills and other industries. “We also focus on the slide from industrial activity and lumber cutting, and how quickly it turns to rural farming and the dairy industry in Chittenden County,” Franke added. “The Johnson State College students did a good job of interviewing people and came away happy that they were involved in the project, and with a changed perspective after talking with people about the history of the county.”

Professor Doyle, who is also a senator for Washington County, said the Chittenden County Historical Society and other historical societies in the county planned to have additional screenings of the documentary. It will also be sent to libraries and schools in the county.

“This film is a study of the experiences and memories of people who lived in Chittenden County a half-century ago,” said Doyle. “The video looks at the industrial side of the county, mainly Burlington and Winooski, and the more rural parts of the county.”

JSC students who participated in production of the documentary include: Sam Bledsoe, Charles Burgess, Chris Burleigh, Silvia Majoriello, Mike Meehan, Cody Rock, Lindsey Simmons, and Sean Van Hoesen.

Local people who were interviewed for the documentary include: Joyce Sweeney of Colchester; Brooks Buxton of Jericho; Jane Fitzgerald of Milton; Sonny Audette of South Burlington; Lincoln Brownell of Williston; Lorraine Jones of Huntington; Gil Coates of Hinesburg; Pat Robbins and Jonathan Leopold, of Burlington; Bill O’Brien of Winooski; Larry Yandow of Essex; Ina Ishan of St. George; and Vince Feeney, historian.

Shot in high-definition, DVD copies of the 40-minute documentary cost $15 and are available online or by mail from Peregrine Productions, 92 South Main, Suite 3, Waterbury, VT 05676, tel. 802-318-5289, or

Sponsors of the $20,000 documentary include: The Vermont Humanities Council, The Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation, Merchants Bank, National Life, Johnson State College, Jonathan Brownell, Senator Virginia Lyons, Senator Hinda Miller, and Senator Bill Doyle.

For more information, contact Professor Doyle at: 802-371-7898.