A Good Read from the January-February 1991 Newsletter
Historical Society To Restore Leffingwell Tin Shop
Work began in Sept. 1990 to save the Leffingwell tin-shop, a historic Middletown Springs structure, that Alice Hoisington and other members of the Haynes family offered to MSHS. The 15-by-20-foot wing on the rear of the Hoisington house on East Street was the workshop of Elisha Leffingwell (1847-1935), who made and sold tinware there for over 50 years. Child’s 1881 Gazeteer and Business Directory of Rutland County listed Leffingwell as “manuf. and dealer in tin, wooden and glass ware.”
The tinshop was removed last fall to make way for a larger addition to the Hoisington house. Christian Lybeck, Russell Arnold, Jim Casco and David Wright jacked up and reinforced the structure before lowering it onto log skids. This spring, Bud Krouse will pull the tinshop “cross lots” with his bulldozer to a permanent location in the Mineral Springs Park.
MSHS has spent over $500 so far, including money raised at last fall’s Apple Festival, on restoring the tinshop. Future work will include closing the end formerly attached to the Hoisington House, repairing the roof, reinstalling doors, windows, cabinets, wainscotting and other apparently original features.
The MSHS trustees at their September meeting outlined the plans for a “living history” project involving the tinshop. Grants are available from Vermont Historic Preservation and other sources for partial funding of living history programs.
Bud Dudley of Foxboro, Mass., a descendent of the Clark family and a volunteer at Sturbridge Village’s tinshop, has offered assistance in equipping a typical late 18th century shop. Jim Casco, Middletown Spring’s heating contractor and Revolutionary War reenactor, would give demonstrations in tinsmithing and teach workshops. Casco has studied early tincraft techniques at Sturbridge Village.
Earl Haynes has found and saved several relics of the tinshop, including the original sign, work benches and several pieces of tinware. Kay Avery has contributed a 1906 bill paid by her father, Brainerd Avery, to Elisha Leffingwell for various hardware items and “work on lamp and pail.” Research in town records may reveal more about the exact age of the tinshop wing.
Elisha Leffingwell was the grandson of Dyar Leffingwell (1770-1821), the first hatter in town, according to Frisbie’s History of Middletown. Elisha was married to Laura Atwater (1861-1940) and had a daughter, Oci, and two sons, Morris (1894-1979) and Ernest (1884-1940).
Laura Leffingwell Castle and Janice Leffingwell of Middletown Springs are the great granddaughters of Elisha Leffingwell. Their father, Alton Leffingwell was the son of Ernest Leffingwell. Alton and his sister Amelia lived with their parents in the Valley View Hotel in the center of town until it burned in 1920. His parents then bought the house on South Street where their granddaughter Laura Castle now lives. Janice Leffingwell lives in the home on North Street that her parents bought when they settled in Middletown.