The town of Tunbridge, Vermont, is just a few miles north of South Royalton and Wagon Wheels Farm, where Edward and Josephine Hopper sojourned in the summers of 1937 and ’38. The White River, the subject of seven of Edward’s Vermont watercolors, runs through Tunbridge, but there are no known Hopper paintings or drawings of the river in that locale. It is clear, however, that the Hoppers drove up Route 110 toward Tunbridge, scouting for places to paint. From the passenger seat of their Buick, Jo Hopper sketched several barns, labeling them as along the “Tunbridge Road.” Although Jo’s sketches were never turned into paintings, the structures that captured the Hoppers’ interest are still there. They are immediately recognizable as the barns in Jo’s rough drawings, remaining as a visual link between Tunbridge and Edward and Josephine Hopper, and to me, a reminder of the Hoppers’ time in Vermont.
This weekend, June 21 and 22, the Hoppers return to Tunbridge — figuratively, at least — for the Vermont History Expo. On Sunday, at 11:00 a.m., I’ll be speaking in the authors’ tent about my book, Edward Hopper in Vermont, certainly a perfect fit for this year’s Expo theme: “Artists and Artisans: Vermont’s Creative Heritage.” See the full roster of the History Expo’s talks by Vermont authors, on both Saturday and Sunday, here. This wonderful two-day celebration of history and creativity will showcase many of Vermont’s fine artists and craftspeople, past and present, including folk artist Lee Hull of South Royalton. The beautiful artwork for the Expo poster (below) was donated by Vermont artist Anne Cady.
And there’s another Hopper connection at the Expo. The state’s Historic Sites Division will display a new roadside marker to be placed near the intersection of Route 110 and Ducker Road, on the lawn of the farmhouse formerly known as Wagon Wheels. With the heading “Tourists Accommodated,” the maker commemorates the practice of farmers taking in paying guests as a source of extra income during the Great Depression. The Hoppers are listed as among the famous guests who stayed at Wagon Wheels, as is Eleanor Roosevelt.
I’ll write more about the marker and post photos when it’s installed at the site, later this summer. Meanwhile, be sure to see it if you go to the Expo, and I hope you’ll also come to hear my talk. This time my focus will be about what I learned about Vermont history while researching the context of Hopper’s Vermont paintings. In other words, I’ll be talking about Hopper’s art as history. See you on the grounds of the Tunbridge World’s Fair!