Honoring a too-short life

Discovery of broken headstone inspires road name at Lake Paran Village

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SHAFTSBURY — In a choice that reflects the public's help and the history of the site, Shires Housing has selected a name for the main road at its new development, the under-construction Lake Paran Village.

After receiving public votes on two possible names for the road, Julia Drive was the clear winner.

The 22-unit, mixed-income Lake Paran Village development is a project of Shires Housing, which is often charged with determining names for roads built during the construction process.

Often, road names are chosen based on a road's defining characteristics, such as Hilltop Drive at Monument View Apartments in Bennington, said Madison Kremer, development assistant and communications specialist at Shires Housing, in an email.

But Lake Paran Village's site had a unique story.

During construction of the development, workers came across a headstone, in pieces, from the mid-1800s for a girl named Julia Burlingame, who had died at the age of 1 year, five days.

According to the state archaeologist, Julia's remains had been moved to be with her father's, who died after her, to a cemetery up the road, Kremer said.

With this history in mind, Shires Housing asked the public to vote on two names for Lake Paran Village's main road — Julia Drive or Burlingame Way.

With over 60 percent of the more than 100 votes, Julia Drive was deemed the favorite. Shires Housing announced the selection of Julia Drive in a Facebook post.

The town of Shaftsbury, along with contractors from Naylor & Breen Builders, MSK Engineering & Design and Goldstone Architecture, ensured that each piece of the headstone was found and relocated to where Julia was ultimately laid to rest at her father's grave, Kremer said.

That is at Grandview Cemetery, in the "old section" of the cemetery, said Ken Coonradt, superintendent of cemeteries in Shaftsbury.

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The state archaeologist did research to determine where Julia's father was buried, Kremer said. She said she isn't sure of the exact location of the site.

"We're assuming that [Julia] had been buried, and then moved, so her original headstone — it wasn't needed," Kremer said. "...Her remains were moved to her father's site, and in the meantime, her headstone was just kind of tossed onto the site, where there now is Lake Paran [Village]. For us, it seems like the most appropriate thing to do with this headstone that we came across is to [put] it back with her father."

Shires Housing thought it would be appropriate to celebrate Julia, and the history of the site, by naming the street after her in some way, and public feedback supported that idea, Kremer said.

"It's always good to find out a little more about the history of this site, as you're changing things [there]," she said. "We thought it was a great thing, and wanted to kind of share the story. A name is something that's so symbolic, and it's a big responsibility to name something, so we wanted to let people kind of have some say in that."

The name survey was conducted on Facebook, which only allows two options — it would have been nice to be able to list more, Kremer said.

But the options chosen seemed "very appropriate," she said.

"We definitely wanted to honor that history," she said.

What's more, Kremer said, they've learned that, aside from one road in Jericho, Vermont, there is no other street name in the state with the word "Julia" anywhere in it.

It's also worth mentioning, she said, that Shires Housing also received some "great, creative suggestions" for the road's name, like "Pudding Place" after Pudding Hill at a local ballpark.

When reached via email on Friday, Select Board Chairman Tim Scoggins said Julia Drive would not be a town road, and the town's only involvement would be registering the road with E911.

Lake Paran Village is expected to be completed in late summer to early fall of this year, with leasing beginning soon after that.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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