Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cavendish: 5 Years After Irene

View of the "Cavendish Canyon" on Route 131
Few will forget what they were doing on Sunday, August 28, 2011 as the pounding rain went from being a late summer storm to massive flooding. With roads either flooded or destroyed, Cavendish was isolated by tropical storm Irene. There was a period of time when no one could get in or out of town unless it was by air.

 The town’s infrastructure was crippled- no water, power or sewage with every road way impacted- displacing residents and delaying the start of school by a week, since Cavendish Elementary was being used as a shelter. For 10 days, the town came together to assess, clean, rebuild and care for one another. Though people were returning to work, this was just the beginning of a long process to put the town back in order. 

Through the incredible efforts of many volunteers, the town office and the National Guard, within 10 days the shelter was closed and people were housed, even if it was temporarily. By Nov. 4 (a little over two months) the gaping hole on Route 131, affectionately known as the Cavendish Canyon, was fixed and open to traffic and by the end of January-five months later- all of the displaced homeowners were back in their residences.

Town manager Rich Svec and his staff arranged for and worked with FEMA and other state agencies to restore the roadways and town infrastructure without incurring any lasting debt for the town. In fact, the last two Irene related FEMA repair projects- Cavendish Gulf Road railroad embankment and the bridge to Meadow Brook Camp,  will be completed this fall.

Five years later, it is fascinating to look at the “then” and “now.” The ravages of the flood are still visible, particularly where the “Cavendish Canyon” took place.

Greven Field was destroyed
Large parts of the Big Green
Monster went down the river.

The destruction to Greven Field was devastating to the kids. However, a group of volunteers raised money, including funding from the Boston Red Sox to repair the fields and make them better than ever.  

Car upside down on Depot St.  in Proctorsville 

The Episcopal Church on Depot St. Proctorsville
lost their Parish Hall and sustained damage to the Church.
St. James Methodist offered their church for the Gethsemane Parish to use. 
Gethsemane Church today with the new
Parish Hall attached to the church. 

Rt 131 as it looks today.
The Cavendish Historical Society’s exhibit from 2012 Cavendish’s Response and Recovery to Irene can be seen as the CHS Museum (open Sundays 2-4 pm or by appointment). In honor of the all the brownies that were dropped off at the shelter, CHS will have brownies for visitors on Sunday, Aug. 28.

To learn more about the flood, check out:
• Cavendish Update blog posts starting on Aug. 26, when the town was encouraged to prepare for the pending hurricane. 

• Cavendish Flood website created by the 2012-2013 CTES fourth graders 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

CHS Briefs: August 1, 2016

Where does the summer go? It’s already August and the nights are starting to feel a little cooler. While we look forward to tomatoes and harvesting lots and lots of zucchini, apple season isn’t far off and with it the changing leaves.

Levon-First Blueberry Picker-The more you pick
the more it benefits CHS.
What’s New
• It’s time to Pick Blueberries!: Once again, thanks to the generosity of Bruce and Betty McEnaney, half the proceeds from picking their organic blueberries, ($3 a pint) goes to the CHS program at CTES. Last year the 6th grade spent the day at Sturbridge Village thanks to blueberry pickers. Located at 354 Miner Rd, just over the Cavendish line in Chester off of Smokeshire (part of Cavendish at one time), lock in your GPS and head for some of the best blueberry picking ever. 

Righting Stones in the Cavendish Village Cem.
• Cemetery Work: Thanks to two different youth groups, grave stone cleaning and righting stones has taken place in the Cavendish Village Cemetery throughout the month of July. The last group from Hope Church, King of Prussia, PA, was responsible for righting 60 stones! Cleaning of head stones is best done when it’s not so hot so expect more work to continue in the fall. These volunteers are getting rid of the orange mold once and for all. Thank you!

• Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Writer Who Changed History, The newest publication from CHS is now available at the Book Nook in Ludlow and the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich. As stores are being added, they are being listed at the book’s website. Don’t forget that every purchase helps fund the Solzhenitsyn project. Either purchasing from Create Space or directly from CHS provides the best return. The book is also available from Have had several book signings and it’s been interesting to hear stories from people whose lives, and those of their families, were impacted by the Gulag. 

2016 Plant Sale
The Annual Plant Sale: Many thanks to our gardeners, Kem and Svetlana Phillips, Pieter van Schaik, Lou Choiniere, Bruce McEnaney and Moonlite Meadows Farm (best compost ever) for incredible plants at this year’s sale. The mock orange was a real hit. Discussions are already underway about what will be “the plant” for next summer’s sale. We’re also considering a possible fall sale of  plants that are best transplanted in September/October-e.g. peonies, azaleas. These will be made immediately available for sale and will not be wintered over. Will have more information on this by the end of August.  

Pang Ting digging at test pit
The tip of a projectile point found by Pang
• Archeology: Several members of CHS are participating in a archaic and woodland Indian archeological dig in West Haven, Vt. This past week, Cavendish resident Pang Ting uncovered a tip of a projectile point. Arrangements are being made with the archaeologist heading up the dig, Dr. Matthew Moriarity,  to take the 6th graders for a day of digging.  If you are interested in being a volunteer for the South Champlain Historical Ecological Project  call 802-226-7807 or e-mail 

Dave Stern using dental tools to remove the last of the 10 coats of varnish on the Museum doors.
• Museum Doors: The CHS strippers have been hard at work meeting weekly to take off the 10 coats of varnish off the doors for the CHS Museum. The goal for August is to have them retrofitted for the entrance and painted. Fingers crossed that we’ll have them installed by the time snow flies.

• Stone Church: While we have some leads on a timber framer to do the work in the belfry, we still haven’t signed a contract. This is very concerning as this will be the second construction season that has come and gone without being able to find someone to do this work. We have contacted Vermont’s Historic Preservation and they too have been unable to help us.

What’s Coming Up
Jazzie and Abbie making potholders with Dan Churchill, CHS President, watching
Murdock Mill
• Woolen Mill Exhibit coming in August: Focusing on the woolen mills, there is a “hands on history” component. Thanks to a donation from Patty Dodge, we have enough wool strips to make a braided rug. Whether you like to braid or sew, everyone can participate. Other activities include potholder making and creating fabric pin holders. The Summer CHS Newsletter will feature a timeline on Cavendish’s mills.

• School Programs: With the start of school just a few weeks away, we’re developing workshops and activities to help our CTES students learn their town’s history though hands on activities.

• Cleaning the Civil War Monument: We’re meeting in August to discuss the cleaning of the Civil War Monument that stands in front of the Museum. It requires special equipment to reach the top but before we make arrangements for a bucket loader, we need to do some tests on the condition of the monument. One of the big questions is how badly has it been damaged by acid rain and if there is “spalling.” Acid rain” speeds weathering, resulting in stones being permanently damaged, as it leaves a rough, pitted surface, making writing and art harder to distinguish. Unfortunately, once the marble is "spalling,” the recommendation is to replace the stone as it's almost impossible to repair.  

• September Activities: A busy month for CHS, we will be running a day long candle dipping workshop at the VT Golden Honey Festival on Sept. 10. The 11th is the annual Phineas Gage Walk and Talk.

For any of the items below, please e-mail or call 802-226-7807.
• Honeycomb: If you have extracted honey from your hives, we’d love to have the comb. Need it by the beginning of September.

• Marketing Assistance: Do you have experience in marketing? We could use your help with the book distribution.

• Strange, Ghostly and Eerie Cavendish Stories: We're collected stories about all things spooky, eerie, strange and ghostly in Cavendish. If you have a tale to tell, we want to hear it. Look forward to a Cavendish haunting this coming Halloween. 

• Board Members/Volunteers: Want to have a more active role in CHS? Become a board member. There are also numerous volunteer opportunities.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pick Blueberries for Your Health and to Help CHS

Levon-First Blueberry picker of the season!
Besides being sweet and wonderful, blueberries are associated with the following benefits: healthy bones; lowers blood pressure; wards off heart disease; prevents cancer; improves mental health, and fights wrinkles.

Once again, thanks to the generosity of Bruce and Betty McEnaney, half the proceeds from picking their blueberries, goes to the Cavendish Historical Society's (CHS) program at CTES. Last year the 6th grade spent the day at Sturbridge Village thanks to blueberry pickers.

Located at 354 Miner Rd, just over the Cavendish line in Chester (use to be part of Cavendish at one time) off of Smokeshire, lock in your GPS and head over for some of the best blueberry picking ever.

Please do what you can to advertise and by all means go pick the best blueberries in VT. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 3 of Museum Doors

Dave Stern using dental tools
Ten coats of varnish is a lot to remove from the doors being prepared for the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) Museum. It's now down to using dental tools to get at the last bits of varnish hiding away in the molding. "It needs to be as clean as possible for the primer and paint to stick," says Dave Stern, who is heading up this labor intensive effort.

Bruce McEnaney, Cavendish Asst. Town Manager and CHS board member, stopped by this week to discuss hinges and latches which will be historical accurate to the door and building.
Conferring with Bruce McEnaney about the latch.

One more day of touch ups will have the doors ready for Dave to modify. It won't be long before painters are needed for the next phase of the door renovation.
"Really, we're still not done?" wonders CHS volunteer
Kem Phillips.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CHS Strippers in Action

One of two doors that will replace the
current CHS Museum door. This is before
the varnish has been removed
Work began today-July 5-on preparing the doors for the Cavendish Historical Society's (CHS) Museum. Under the watchful gaze of woodworker Dave Stern, Margo Caulfield and Kem Phillips worked together figuring out the best technique for getting rid of varnish.

The doors are from an architectural salvage depot and were once housed in a church. Once they are stripped of their varnish, they will be reconfigured for the Museum entry way and ultimately painted. When completed and installed, the appearance will be very similar to the doors that were original to the building.
Kem Phillips and Dave Stern 
Dave Stern trying another removal technique

In 1834, church doors (the building was constructed to be the Cavendish Baptist Church) would have been solid and not contain paint. It's not clear when the double doors were either modified or replaced with ones that had panes of glass. This may have been done when the building served as the Town Hall.
Museum with double doors and concrete steps

If you are interested and have the time to strip paint and help work on the doors, please call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

Thursday, June 30, 2016

CHS Briefs July 1, 2016

Welcome to the first edition of CHS Briefs. Before you start thinking about “tidy whities,” this is a quick way for the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) to give you a “brief” overview of what we’ve been doing and coming up as well as ways you can help. We hope you find it informative.

What’s New
• The Museum is open for the season every Sunday 2-4 pm and by appointment at other times.

• Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Writer Who Changed History, the newest publication from CHS is now in print and ready for purchase. So far the reviews have been good. You can purchase the book and have it signed at the upcoming Annual Plant Sale on July 2 and when the Museum is open on July 3. As much as we want to educate people about Solzhenitsyn, we also are using this as a way to raise funds for the Solzhenitsyn project. Either purchasing from Create Space or directly from CHS provides the best return. The book is also available from Learn more about the book.

Craig's original plant list
The Annual Plant Sale is Saturday July 2, 8:30-2:30 in front of the museum. We are so lucky to have Svetlana & Kem (CHS board member) Phillips working with us. If Craig Rankin had a green thumb, Svetlana is the “plant whisperer.” She has successfully grafted Mock Orange from leaves from Gloria Leven’s tree. New for the sale this year are herbs and an expansion of our patio tomato plant offerings. Psst... Instead of milling around on Friday night wondering when we’re going to be setting up so you can get the “best picks,” we’ll be there at 6 pm. 

Jackson Gore dig where volunteers from CHS
met Charlie, he's the one in the straw hat.
• Archaeology: Due to insufficient registration, the flint knapping workshop on June 5, with the archaeologist Charlie Paquin, was cancelled. However, through Charlie, several volunteers from CHS have been recruited to help with a Paelo Indian dig (about 11,000 years ago) in Fair Haven, VT. We are arranging to have Jess Robinson, the state archaeologist, speak at the museum regarding the Jackson Gore (Ludlow, VT) Paleo Indian dig.

• Museum Doors: Last year, we discovered the original doors in the cellar. Milling wood for replacement parts, the doors and wood were stashed for a year of “seasoning.” Working with master wood worker David Stern, it was determined that the doors are not worth saving. However, board members Bruce McEnaney and Kem picked up a pair of old church doors last summer-just in case. Scrapping and retooling the doors begins on July 5th. We will be posting “progress” pictures to the CHS blog. The goal is to have the new doors hanging before the “snow flies.” 
The Museum with the "original" doors. When built, the Museum
would have had solid doors, which is what the new doors will be. 

What’s Coming Up
• Pick UR Own Blueberries: Thanks to Bruce and Betty McEnaney, they will once again be opening up their amazing blueberry patch to the community to “pick and pay” for the “world’s best blueberries.” Proceeds from the sale go to help defray the cost of CHS’s school program, particularly class trips. Last fall we took the 6th grade to Sturbridge Village and we’d like to do that again as well add trips for lower grades. We will let you know when the berries are ripe for the picking.

Murdock's Mill Proctorsville
• Mill Exhibit coming in August: Cavendish’s Mill history is fascinating and so we’re working on a new way people can learn about it, including a number of hands on activities for visitors to try. 

The logo for the tag sale was developed by Rich Svec
• Town Wide Tag Sale: Always the last Saturday in July, this year July 30, we will have the Solzhenitsyn book on sale (you can have it signed as well) at the Gazebo on the Proctorsville Green. The sale is from 9-3

• Cemetery Cleaning: A group of student volunteers will be in Cavendish in July. Working with the Cavendish Sexton and CHS volunteers, they will be tackling the orange mold problem in the Cavendish village Cemetery.

For any of the items below, please e-mail or call 802-226-7807.
• Timber Framer: We are in desperate need of a timber framer who can work on the belfry of the Stone Church. We have grant funding for this project and are having a very hard time finding someone who can do the work. This is the second construction season slipping by.
• Honeycomb: CHS will once again be doing candle dipping at the Annual Honey Festival at the Golden Stage Inn in September. If you have extracted honey from your hives, we’d love to have the comb. Need it by the beginning of September. 

• Marketing Assistance: Do you have experience in marketing? We could use your help with the book distribution.

• Board Members: Want to have a more active role in CHS? Become a board member