Monday, February 4, 2013
Scribbler II Winter 2013
The Cavendish Historical Society’s (CHS) Annual Meeting will be on Feb. 24, 5 pm at the newly restored Episcopal Church Parish Hall on Depot Street in Proctorsville. There will be a potluck supper, short meeting, and the film “The Homecoming” will be shown.
As part of establishing the permanent exhibit “I Wrote and Waited,” (see article below) which covers the 18 years Aleksandre Solzhenitsyn lived in Cavendish, CHS selected this film as it begins in Cavendish. Produced by the BBC, the film documents the two-month train journey across Russia as Solzhenitsyn returns home with his family after twenty years of enforced exile. Solzhenitsyn, the man who experienced and revealed to the world the full horror of the Soviet gulag, is recognized throughout Russia as 'the conscience of the nation'. But despite the triumphant and emotional homecoming, this is no easy ride for Solzhenitsyn, his wife and American sons. Instead, they abandon their refuge in America to find their trans-Siberian trip from Vladivostok to Moscow dogged by the KGB, the Russian Mafia, old-style communist bosses, the tragic plight of ordinary Russians and the echoes of its even more terrible past.
Interested in Being a Board Member or Volunteer?
CHS is currently looking for new board members, as well as volunteers. If you have an interest in Cavendish history, or would like to be involved in the various programs of CHS, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-226-7807. You do not have to be a resident of Cavendish to serve on the board. We are also in need of volunteers who have experience or interest in archival work, exhibits, displays, web design, fundraising, maintenance and public speaking
“I Wrote and Waited”
From September 1976 until May 1995, Aleksandre Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 Nobel Prize winner for literature and Soviet dissident, lived in Cavendish. CHS is working with the Solzhenitsyn family to establish a permanent exhibit to document those eighteen years. The title of the exhibit, “I Wrote and Waited,” is taken from the film “The Homecoming,” which is how Solzhenitsyn described his time here.
While in Cavendish, he wrote the “The Red Wheel,” which is a series of Russian historical novels beginning with World War I. Solzhenitsyn explained that living in Cavendish allowed him to write uninterrupted. “I could work all my waking hours. When you are absorbed in your work, there’s no room for other thoughts. Here I’ve been able to immerse myself fully in the year 1917, I’ve been living with the characters in my book so much so that they seemed more alive than many of my contemporaries. I really got to know them and no one disturbed me.” From “The Homecoming.”
For those who have materials-pictures, stories etc.- relating to the eighteen years he lived here, and would like to contribute them to the exhibit or Solzhenitsyn archives, please contact CHS by e-mailing email@example.com, calling 802-226-7807 or by post, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.
The Future of the Cavendish Universalist Church
A much loved building, and one of the oldest in town, the Cavendish Universalist Church (Main Street across from the Baptist Church) was built in 1844. While many of the early settlers were Baptists, and used the Union Meeting House (Davis and Center Roads), the first settler in Cavendish, John Coffeen, was a Universalist as were several others.
Under the leadership of Rev. Warren Skinner, a committee (Sam Adams, Otis Robbins and David Ordway) arranged for the snecked ashlar stone church to be constructed Rev. Skinner was an avid abolitionist and was part of the “above ground” railroad in Vermont.
Decommissioned as a church in the 1960’s, it was leased to CHS by the Canadian Universalist Church. While used for art exhibits in most recent years, the building needs considerable work.
Because of the literary and historical significance of Solzhenitsyn, as well as the volume of material already gathered, to say nothing of how important religion was to him, CHS began to think about using the building as a permanent exhibit space. After conferring with Vermont Historic Preservation, CHS learned that it was important for fundraising purposes, that the town holds the deed to the building.
The VT Quebec Universalist Unitarian Convention has agreed to transfer ownership of the Universalist Church to the town. In preparation for the transfer of the deed on May 11, an article will go before the voters at Town Meeting in March. The voters will be asked if they are willing to accept the transfer of the church deed to the town, who in turn would lease the building to CHS.
Summer Fest 2013
While it may feel like months away, CHS has set the date for this coming year’s Summer Fest. It will be on Saturday July 6 on the Museum grounds.
If you have not joined the Cavendish Historical Society, need to renew your membership, and/or would like to be a volunteer, please complete the form below and sending a check, payable to CHS, to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. All contributions are tax deductible.
Phone Number: _____________________ E-Mail: ____________________________
__ Individual Member $10 ___ Senior Member 65+ $5 ___ Sustaining Member $500
__ Household Member $15 ___ Contributing Member $250
___ I would be interested in serving, as a volunteer .I would be interested in serving on the following committee(s):
__ Program Planning __ Fundraising __ Building (Museum)
__Archives _ Budget –– Cemetery __ Hands on History
Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes __ Educational Programs __Publications
__ Archeological Activities __ Museum & Archival __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund __ Williams Fund __ Hands on History
__ Other (please specify) __ Cemetery Restoration
President’s Report 2012
Looking back at 2012, the town of Cavendish can take great pride in the job they have done in restoring the town from Irene. The Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) has been recording this effort so future generations will be inspired, much as we were by the records and history of the people from the 1927 flood.
This year’s Museum visitors have come from all over the globe including Chile and Russia. As a result of these visits, we are not only gaining new information about our history, but we have been inspired to work on two new permanent exhibits.
Phineas Gage has been a fascinating curiosity since he was first injured in Cavendish in 1848. Many schools, as well as the general public, contact the Society about his remarkable recovery from the tamping rod that went through his brain. For the last two years, we’ve had special programs about Gage as well as a guided walking tour. This winter, we are working with the 4th grade class at Cavendish Town Elementary School, who are created a Phineas Gage website, as well as mounting a permanent exhibit about him. We are in contact with the Harvard Medical Museum, which displays his skull and tamping rod. In addition, we are communicating with a reporter in Chile, who is trying to find any information about Gage’s life in Santiago, where he lived just prior to his death.
The other person, about whom we receive frequent requests for information, is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Laureate in literature. While exiled from Russia, he spent 18 years living in Cavendish. As he noted in the film, “The Homecoming,” “I wrote and I waited.” Consequently, this will be the name of the permanent exhibit being planned by CHS and his family.
As we began to discuss the Solzhenitsyn exhibit, it became clear that we needed a separate space for it. Consequently, we thought of the Cavendish Universalist “Stone” Church. Our current lease agreement with the Universalist Church makes it hard to obtain the funds needed for renovation and preservation of this building. Fortunately, the Executive Committee of the Vermont Quebec Universalist Unitarian Convention has agreed to give the building to the town in a transfer ceremony planned for May 11. In the interim, there will be an article at the March Town Meeting about the voters desire to accept this donation.
CHS will be working with the Vermont Historic Preservation Trust to help with funding as well as ensure that the work on the Stone Church is done properly so that it is both an historic gem for Cavendish as well as for Vermont.
The coming year seems to be about buildings. In addition to the Stone Church project, we will be having the outside of the Museum painted in May.
Our web presence, which includes posting historic pictures on the Cavendish Facebook page, and our Hands on History program, offers workshops in the school and community. We are a historical society that operates year round and reaches thousands of people all over the world.