OUR LADY OF LOURDES

 In the late 1800's there was no Catholic Church in North Pownal. Priests who journeyed to Pownal from Rutland by train once a month served this predominately French Village. Masses were held in private homes, with half the sermon in French, half in English. One of the priests. Father Charles Prevost, would later become Pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Bennington.

 Beginning sometime in 1887, Mass was held upstairs in Fred Smith's General Store by Father Audet, who made the monthly trip from Rutland. The priests would stay at the Tatro Farm, close by the Church. During the weekend stays, the priests maintained a busy schedule that might include weddings, funerals, baptisms and calling on the sick and elderly. On Sunday morning there was Mass (in Latin) followed by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In mid afternoon there were vespers, music and prayers that were attended by the priests. Departure back to Rutland was usually on Monday morning, which included a horse and buggy ride to the train.

 In 1897, the dream for a Catholic church in Pownal became a reality. On June 7, 1897, Albert C. Houghton of No. Adams, MA, sold a parcel of land in North Pownal to the Diocese in Burlington for one dollar. To begin construction, each of the 85 Catholic families in the village contributed twenty-five dollars. Then followed fundraisers that included suppers, bicycle raffles and bazaars. One of these bazaars lasted for two weeks and raised $2,000.

 The Carpenter brothers from Bennington were contracted to build the church for $5,700. Tom Purcell and his team of horses prepared the cellar hole. The logs for the church were cut at Tatro Saw Mill. During the year-long construction, the Carpenter brothers pitched a tent at the site.

 In the spring of 1898, the church opened its doors for the first time. Formal dedication, a gala event, took place in October 1898, at which a forty-member choir sang and a local orchestra composed of Catholics and Non-Catholics played. At this time, most of the French parishioners referred to the Church as Notre Dame de Lourdes.

 In 1914, Our Lady of Lourdes became a part of St. Francis deSales community of Bennington. In 1927, electric wiring was installed. Until that time the source for church lighting had been gas lamps, which were located near the Stations of the Cross. Wood stoves placed in the basement under floor grates provided heat.

Our lady of Lourdes Church, North Pownal