St. Albans Lecture Series

Fall 2016

All lectures will be on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and will be held at the St. Albans Historical Museum, third floor, corner of Church and Bishop Streets in St. Albans. The site is handicap accessible with parking behind the museum.

The Devil’s Cabinet: The Eddy Family of Spirit Mediums

Presenter: Jason Smiley
August 31, 2016

Description:  “Learn about the famous Eddy family of Chittenden, Vermont.  During the mid to late 1800’s they became world-renowned as powerful spirit mediums with the alleged ability of generating full-bodied spirit manifestations or materializations of the departed.  People traveled from all over the world to Chittenden to witness these phenomena for themselves.  Some came with the hope of seeing and speaking to their own departed family members.  Others came as skeptics, hoping to debunk the family’s alleged powers as ‘humbug.’   By 1874, the family was so well-known that Chittenden started being referred to as “Spirit Vale”.  To this day, there are many who believe that the family had genuine supernatural abilities.  The family and their story has ties to P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Queen Victoria, and President Lincoln.”


Unclog Your Brain! Removing Mental Barriers to Success

Presenter:  Dr. Steven Taubman
September 7, 2016

Description:  “In this transformational and interactive program based on Dr. Steve’s Procrastination Annihilation course, Dr. Steve shows you how to tap into the power of the subconscious mind to get more done while maintaining a calm, balanced, and positive state of mind.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Quiet their minds and release unwanted thoughts and beliefs
  • Communicate with their subconscious to access motivation
  • Develop a compelling action plan that invites follow-through
  • Quickly release stress and recover from discouragement
  • Manage their energy to make projects enjoyable and fun

The History of Barns in Vermont

Presenter:  Curtis Johnson
September 14, 2016

Description:  “Curtis Johnson, co-author of “Buildings Of Vermont”, will offer an overview of the history of barns in Vermont from the first settlement through the 20th century, covering their changing forms and functions.”

The Forest Duff – An Unseen but Most Important World

Presenter:  Kurt Valenta
September 21, 2016

Description:  “This presentation is an investigative sojourn to the forest floor.  One of the most distinctive features of the forest eco-system is that it teems with a wide variety of fauna and flora.  Due to the large numbers of decomposers and predators, it is one of the richest environments in biodiversity.  The forest floor, with its vegetative matter, is a crucial component in nutrient transfer to mineral soil.  A vital part of the natural cycle, it is unseen and underfoot but should be understood.  After this presentation, you will never experience a forest the same way again.”

Silent Clowns

Presenter:  Rob Merlin
September 28, 2016

Description:  “This is a laugh-filled lecture illustrated with a dazzling array of clips from classic silent film comedies!  What makes us laugh, is the underlying theme of this presentation.  Rob will compare the styles of the silent film comedians:  Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, and more!”

Ghosts and Legends of Lake Champlain

Presenter: Thea Lewis
October 5, 2016

Description:  “Lake Champlain’s history includes many mysterious events.  Because of this, it is not surprising that some spirits may still linger in this otherwise tranquil place.  Fort Ticonderoga saw some of early America’s bloodiest battles, and American, French, and British ghosts still stand guard.  A spirit walks the halls of SUNY Plattsburgh, even after his original haunt burned down in 1929.  The Champlain Islands of Stave, Crab, Valcour, and Gardena ll host otherworldly inhabitants.  Unidentified creatures and objects have made appearances on the water, in the sky, and in the forests surrounding the lake.  Join Burlington’s Thea Lewis as she explores the ghosts and legends that haunt Lake Champlain.”

The History of The First Congregational Church and Organ Demonstration

Presenters: Professor William Tortolano and Lin Smith
October 12, 2016

Description:  Church Historian Lin Smith will discuss the history of the church building, organ, Tiffany and Lamb window, beam carving, and other interesting facts.  Professor Tortolano will play the church organ and demonstrate its range and sounds.


The Oldest Reef

Presenter:  Linda Fitch
October 19, 2016

Description:  Linda Fitch will discuss the origins and preservation of the Chazy Fossil Reef on Isle La Motte, Vermont.  This 480 million year old reef was formed in the ancient lappets Ocean south of the equator and far to the East where Zimbabwe is today.  At that time, Earth was an alien and barren place.  There was no life on dry land, but the oceans were filled with primitive life forms.  Though the ancient reef once stretched a thousand miles along ancient North America, very little remains today.  The most complete fossil record of the reef is on Isle La Motte, Vermont.”


Vermont Folk Art

Presenter:  Jane Beck
October 26, 2016

Description:  “Much of Vermont’s folk art is personal: a stair rug capturing the history of a family, a weathervane symbolizing the artist’s career in the railroad, or a quilt representing the memories of farm life.  Vermont Folklife Center founder Jane Beck’s slide presentation and lecture touches on the informal process of learning a traditional art, life crises that spur the creation of folk art, and the emotional bond that exists between the maker and the receiver of a folk art object.


Myths About World War II

Presenter:  Mark Stoler
November 2, 2016

Description:  “World War II remains one of the most popular of all U.S. history subjects, but the version of the war that exists in our collective memory is filled with misconceptions and myths.  Unfortunately, these myths have dominated our worldview ever since 1945 and have heavily influenced, often disastrously, our foreign and military policies.  This lecture explains how some of these myths developed and challenges them with a comparison to the actual history of the war.”


The History of Spices

Presenter:  Hank Kaestner
November 9, 2016

Description:  “The history of spices matches closely the history of the Western World.  As Hank traveled the world as a spices buyer, he found himself in the footsteps of the early explorers (Columbus, Vasco DaGama, and others) and realized how intertwined spice history was with world history.  This presentation will trace spice usage back to before the Roman empire, through the age of Exploration, and into the 20th century, when fortunes were made in New England by sending clipper ships around the world to purchase black pepper, cinnamon, and other spices.  After all, Columbus was looking for the spice islands of Indonesia not the Western Hemisphere!  But did you know that Columbus discovered a “new” spice on his visit to Cuba, that today is more popular than all of the other spices combined?  This and other interesting facts will be discussed during this lecture.”

Lake Champlain:  A Natural History

Presenter: Mike Winslow
November 16, 2016

Description:  “Lake Champlain, the “West Coast of New England”, offers a wide array of natural habitats, but faces serious challenges.  Mike Winslow will explore how the management of the lake is tied to and dependent on it’s setting, history, and past and future land management decisions.”

Membership Information

Payment of membership dues entitles subscribers to attend all sessions of the current semester. Lectures are also open to non-members for a fee of $5 per lecture. Semester membership fees are $40 per individual, or $70 per couple.

For membership, complete the form on the site brochure and send with your dues to:

UVM OLLI Registration Office
460 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401

Make checks payable to The University of Vermont.

Become a member today!

Membership in St. Albans OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) entitles members to attend programs in all the OLLI organizations established in seven locations throughout Vermont. Simply present your membership card during the corresponding semester.

Spring 2016 Steering Committee

Bryant Reynolds, John Newton, Helen Newton, Gerard Sparacino, Rita Sparacino
For a complete listing of all programs, see our listing in a pdf format.

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