Friday, March 8, 2013

Solzhenitsyn Exhibit

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, soviet dissident and Nobel Laureate for literature lived in Cavendish from 1976 to 1994. During this time, he wrote the “Red Wheel.” Because of the interest in his time in the United States, in 2012, the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) began working with Solzhenitsyn’s family on a three-fold project:
• Maintain a permanent exhibit, whose primarily focus is the 18 years Solzhenitsyn lived in Cavendish VT.
• Obtain oral histories, archives and documentation pertaining to his life in Cavendish
• Outreach to community, including schools and organizations, in order to promote an understanding of Solzhenitsyn’s work and the role life in Cavendish played in it.

The future home of the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exhibit is the Cavendish Universalist “Stone” Church.

Under the leadership of Rev. Warren Skinner, a well-known abolitionist, the building was completed and dedicated in 1844. The construction was snicked ashlar. This technique refers to walls constructed with exterior and interior surfaces composed of mortared stone slabs arranged vertically on edge, tied together with smaller horizontal slabs called "snecks." The space between the wall surfaces was filled with rubblestone. Oral tradition indicates that Scottish stonemasons working in Canada were responsible for introducing the technique into Vermont. Buildings of this type date from 1832 to 1860. The stones used for the church came from local quarries.

While much of the interior of the church remains as built, it was equipped with power sometime after 1908. “New” wood burning stoves were added in the early 1900’s but it appears that the Church was primarily used in the summer months starting in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Decommissioned as a church in 1960, it was leased to the Cavendish Historical Society in the 1970’s and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

On March 4, 2013, the citizens of the Town of Cavendish voted to accept the deed of the Church from the Vermont Quebec Universalist Unitarian Convention, which will be given to the town on May 11, 2013. 

CHS is working with the Preservation Trust of Vermont on the restoration of the building. 

Those wishing to help support this Solzhenitsyn Exhibit can do so by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Cavendish Historical Society and send to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. CHS is a 501 © 3 non-profit.

For more information about CHS, the Solzhenitsyn Exhibit or ways to become involved please call 802-226-7807, e-mail or mail PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142.

Please check back for updates on the restoration of the church and the Solzhenitsyn Exhibit. 

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