Wallace Watt a charter member of Barre's Troop 1 was the oldest boy scout in America in 1985 and received his 75 year service pin from the Boy Scouts of America.
Governor Deane C. Davis, as charter member of Troop 1 notes in his autobiography, Milne taught “the basic principles of good conduct, good citizenship, crafts, the skills of outdoor life and self discipline… he taught the meaning of citizenship, patriotism, moral conduct, and the proper attitude toward others.”
William Foster Milne at right, brought the concept of Boy Scouts to Barre, Vermont in 1909. He was the first scoutmaster in America.
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VFW MacKenzie-Webster Post #790
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Mail to: 26 Pond Street, Barre, VT 05641
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Barre Scouting Monument Committee
Steve Restelli, Chair
JoEllen Calderara, Treasurer
Scouting sculpture project in vital phase
This article appeared in the July 19, 2017 edition of the Times Argus and was written by staff writer David Delcore.
BARRE — Most of the major questions about what would be Barre’s next big piece of public sculpture have now been answered, but one remains for those who wish to memorialize the Granite City’s long-standing claim that it is the birthplace of the scouting movement in the United States. Can they actually pull it off?
That question must be answered in coming months if the “Barre Scouting Monument” is going to avoid the fate that befell it several decades ago when renowned teacher and sculptor Carlo Abate died with an unfinished plaster model of the monument still on his workbench. The year was 1941.
Barre sculptor Giuliano Cecchinelli Jr. looks at his scale clay model of the 9-foot-high Barre scouting sculpture he is poised to create out of granite for eventual installation at Depot Square in Barre. Cecchinelli’s work is a variation on an original sculpture created by Carlo Abate in 1941. STEFAN HARD / TIMES ARGUS STAFF PHOTO
Now, a group that has sought to finish what Abate started is determined history won’t repeat itself and the monument he conceived will finally become a prominent part of Barre’s streetscape.
For the moment, it is a carefully crafted hunk of clay, one Giuliano Cecchinelli II is eager to carve in granite as soon as organizers are able to close the sizable funding gap that has kept the project on hold for nearly six years.
The clock is ticking.
Supportive city councilors have signaled they want to see “significant progress” on the project by the end of the year or they will rescind their 2011 pledge of $25,000 from money former Barre businessman Charlie Semprebon bequeathed the city upon his death in 2009. That would be a fatal blow to the latest plans for the scouting monument because the city’s pledge represents one-third of the $75,000 budget for the project, and well over half of the $40,000 that has been raised to date.
Most of the rest, including granite for the 9-foot tall monument, are in-kind donations that won’t help pay Cecchinelli’s $57,000 commission.
Rock of Ages has agreed to supply granite for the monument and everything from setting the statue to sandblasting some of the lettering has been pledged by local companies.
Now comes the hard part, as Steve Restelli and a recently expanded group of committed residents attempt to raise the remaining $35,000 so Cecchinelli can get to work.
“Unless we have all the funding in place, he’s not going to start swinging his hammer,” Restelli said of Cecchinelli, who has worked closely with the committee.
Selected on the strength of his clay model based on the plaster version Abate was working on when he died, Cecchinelli has been patiently waiting for what he predicted Monday would be a winter’s worth of work. From his perspective it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carve another signature granite statue in a community that has three of them.
One of those works of art, the Italian-American memorial known as “The Sculptor,” was dedicated to Abate in 1985. Another, “Youth Triumphant,” is in City Hall Park where the kneeling, naked soldier is the annual backdrop for Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. The third is the statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns, which stands on the lawn of what is now the Vermont History Center.
In a move Restelli believes answers an important question for prospective donors, his group last week locked down a location for the scouting monument.
“It’s pretty hard to knock on doors and raise funds when you don’t have a location,” he said.
The Vermont Granite Museum of Barre’s board of directors helped solve that problem by agreeing to allow the monument to be placed next to the former railroad depot it owns on Depot Square.
The prominent location in a pocket park that didn’t exist until last year is viewed as the perfect location.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Pierre Couture. “It’s where it should be.”
Couture, who is a relatively new addition to the core group that first proposed the monument, said it was a gathering spot for Barre’s earliest scouts when they were heading off on trips. It’s also where Scottish stonecutter William Foster Milne would have returned in 1909 with a charter signed by Boy Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell and the handbook, neckerchiefs and cloth badges he used to launch “Troop 1” in Barre.
Snapped more than a century ago, a photograph of Milne demonstrating the “fireman’s carry” with one of his scouts was the inspiration for Abate’s plaster model, as well as the clay one Cecchinelli plans to carve in granite. The 5½-foot statue will be mounted on an engraved 3-foot granite pedestal and a 6-inch granite base.
When it is finished Restelli said it will tell the story of a community, a movement, and an artist while becoming an important artistic addition to downtown Barre.
Couture said the committee has already started soliciting donations and will step up those efforts in coming months with a couple of coordinated events. One, he said, will be a community yard sale in late August and the other will be a family-friendly and affordable version of the Rockfire solstice celebration that he started on Millstone Hill several years ago.
Set for Sept. 23, Couture said FallFire is planned to be an annual event and proceeds from the first two years will be earmarked for the Barre Scouting Monument.
Anyone interested in making individual donations of any amount can now do so either online, at www.scoutingmonument.com, or by mailing checks payable to VFW Mackenzie Webster Post #790 to 29 Beckley St., Barre, VT 05641. Checks should include “scout statue” on the memo line.
Around 1939, several decades after the Barre Scouting movement began, sculptor Carlo Abate of Barre, Vermont was asked to design and carve a memorial statue commemorating William Foster Milne in establishing the first Boy Scout troop in America. Milne had gone to London in 1909, returning with boy scout books from Baden Powell's, British Boy Scout organization and started a Boy Scout Club in Barre. In 1920 William Milne died at the age of 34 and was buried in his native Scotland. Milne was deeply loved by the people of Barre, and Carlo Abate wanted to honor him and his scouts with a fitting Barre Scouting Memorial statue.
Abates design and composition were very carefully crafted by him to illustrate how scouts render assistance and serve their community. This would be his last artistic endeavor. Already in ill health, Abate died before completing his half-scale model. He lamented when he was too sick to work on the model of his sadness in not being able to complete the project for the First Baptist Church on Washington Street. His incomplete model and project lay dormant for nearly 3/4 of a century.
The Scouting Monument Committee's goal is to finish this monumental statue Abate was unable to complete and place it in the very heart of Barre.
This monument will honor Barre, Vermont's historic past, its granite workers and artists, which made Barre, Vermont the granite center of the world. It will honor Barre's founding of the Boy Scouts in 1909, which inspired the girls of Thetford, Vermont to establish the Campfire Girls a year later in 1910.
Approved Location: Vermont Granite Museum property at Depot Square (The Very Heart of Barre)
Perpetual Care of Monument: To be provided by the City of Barre, Vermont upon completion in 2018
Monument Sculptor: Giuliano Cecchinelli Jr.
BARRE SCOUTING MONUMENT
HONORING - A CITY - A MOVEMENT - AN ARTIST:
BARRE, VERMONT HAS BEEN THE GRANITE CENTER OF THE WORLD FOR OVER 200 YEARS
THE FIRST BOY SCOUT CLUB IN AMERICA FORMED IN BARRE, VERMONT IN 1909
WILLIAM FOSTER MILNE OF BARRE IS KNOWN AS THE FIRST SCOUTMASTER IN AMERICA
GOVERNOR DEANE C. DAVIS WAS A CHARTER MEMBER SCOUT IN 1909 OF BARRE'S TROOP 1
WALLACE WATT A CHARTER MEMBER OF TROOP 1 WAS HONORED AS AMERICAS OLDEST SCOUT IN 1985
CARLO ABATE WAS ONE OF BARRE'S MOST CELEBRATED ARTISTS AND TEACHERS. THIS IS HIS UNFINISHED PROJECT FROM 1941
SCOUTING MONUMENT GOAL
HELP OUR SCULPTOR SWING HIS HAMMER
DONATE $5,000.00 We will place up to 6 Companies
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