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#2097201 - 02/02/12 09:37 PM Gravestone exhibit at Bennington Museum
JustJen Offline

Registered: 07/07/03
Loc: Rutland, Vermont
I probably won't be able to get to this, but figured it might be of interest to someone smile

Memento Mori: The Art and Commerce of Gravestones in Bennington County

Starts today, runs through May 2

On view through May 2 is Memento Mori: The Art and Commerce of Gravestones in Bennington County. Phase one of this exhibit explores the artistic and commercial side of gravestone carving, particularly as they were practiced in Bennington County between 1775 and 1850. Beginning on March 10, the second phase of this exhibit has on view the gravestone of Rev. Jedidiah Dewey, archival records documenting the gravestone carving business of the Rule Family and more.

And a related story, from today's Bennington Banner


Saving Rev. Dewey's headstone for history
K.D. NORRIS/Arts & Entertainment Editor
Posted: 02/02/2012 09:43:53 AM EST

Wednesday February 1, 2012

BENNINGTON -- Charles Dewey has always had an appreciation of local history, and the desire to preserve it -- as you would expect from a descendant of the Rev. Jedidiah Dewey, Bennington's first minister.

So when Rev. Dewey's original Vermont marble headstone, located in the Bennington Center Cemetery, broke at the ground and fell in 2008, Charles knew he not only had to protect the history of his family but also the history of the region.

"I just grew up with history," Charles Dewey said Tuesday, during a tour of the cemetery and the Reverend's headstone. "My whole family talked about history and the family's history -- I am related to so many people, I just had the general interest.

"But Jedidiah has always been part of Vermont history, the first Protestant minister in the first Vermont town ... Guilford was actually the first community in Vermont, but it wasn't yet chartered, so this is the first ... To me, it was too important a stone, historically as well as aesthetically, there is much more on this than most early stones. It is the only (historic) one known in the state that has Shakespeare on it."

So Charles Dewey had to act: Having a replica headstone commissioned and placed, and donating the original to the Bennington Museum.

The gravestone of Rev. Dewey (1714-1778) was given to the Bennington Museum in the fall of 2010, after Dewey and the Bennington Center Cemetery Association decided to preserve it. The donation, in fact, has inspired a new exhibition at the Museum, "Memento Mori: The Art and Commerce of Gravestones in Bennington," which looks at gravestone carving in Bennington from just before the American Revolution through the first few decades of the nineteenth century. ‘Memento mori' is Latin for "remember your mortality."

(For a detailed discussion on Rev. Dewey, his headstone, and the history of both, the May 2011 edition of Bennington Museum's Walloomsack Review has a story written by Museum curator Jamie Franklin.)

When the Reverend's headstone broke in 2008 "it was the third time it had broken, I could see where it was repaired before," Charles Dewey said. "But this time it broke right at the ground, and the original stone has two big cracks in it, and I thought even if we could glue it together it might fall apart along one of those cracks, which go through all the lettering."

"I decided that before it breaks apart, I wanted to get it into the museum -- I asked them before I had it removed: ‘Would you take it?'"

The museum, of course, jumped at the chance.

But finding a safe place to preserve the original headstone was only half the story, and half of the work to be done.

"I was on the Vermont history board, that meets in Barre, and I called one of the people (with the board) and said ‘Do you know a good sculptor in Barre?' She right away said ‘George Kurjanowicz'," Charles Dewey said, standing beside the replica. "I could see some of his work once I contacted him. His interest was really strong. He said ‘I've made hundreds of angels, I am so bored with making angels' ... He was fascinated with this. He wouldn't let his assistants work on it. He did it all himself. Putting all this print on there just about broke his back. He had this thing horizontal, he had to bend over it to do all this carving."

The original carver was Fredrick Manning, and Kurjanowicz made the replica as close to the original as possible. In fact the stone used was from the same quarry as the original, in West Shaftsbury -- arguably "the oldest quarry in Vermont," he said. The new stone weighs about 700 pounds. The project's total cost, with the stone "put back in the ground," was about $8,500, according to Dewey.

The replica now sits in a row of headstones near the Old First Church, the location of the original stone. However, Dewey said he thinks the Reverend and about 50 other people were buried under what is now the church. Dewey believes most of the bodies are still under the church, and only the headstones were moved in about 1865.

For the next couple of decades, the replica will stand out with its unweathered finish, but it could have been worse, and -- as with all memento mori -- time will make all things equal.

"I knew the highland gray (marble) would be very white, but if I had used bright white, it would be glowing right now," Charles Dewey said. "And in 20 years it will look like all the rest," pointing out a headstone only 12 years old that now almost blends in with its 200-year-old neighbors.

Rev. Jedidiah Dewey


#2102164 - 02/07/12 07:09 PM Re: Gravestone exhibit at Bennington Museum [Re: JustJen]
VTJohn Offline

Registered: 12/26/08
Loc: Rutland County, VT
Jen - I was just in Bennington today and drove right by the museum. I didn't notice any signs about this exhibit or I would have stopped in.
I may be back there before May and I'll see if I can get pictures.

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" - Bob Dylan

#2103326 - 02/08/12 09:30 PM Re: Gravestone exhibit at Bennington Museum [Re: VTJohn]
JustJen Offline

Registered: 07/07/03
Loc: Rutland, Vermont
If you get to go, I wouldn't mind hearing about it or even seeing pictures if that is possible. Sounds like it would be interesting to check out. I can actually get to Bennington, but the 120 mile round trip on multiple buses gets me exhausted just thinking about it!

#2138396 - 03/22/12 05:30 AM Re: Gravestone exhibit at Bennington Museum [Re: JustJen]
headstonelvr11 Offline

Registered: 08/27/03
Loc: Crypt Chick Castle.....under t...
I only live 40 miles away Jen thanks for letting me know If I can go I will take loads of photos
Be nice to the homeless......there but for the grace of GOD go you

There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave
-Barry McGuire-

#2171916 - 05/05/12 12:33 PM Re: Gravestone exhibit at Bennington Museum [Re: headstonelvr11]
Uncle Wulf Offline

Registered: 03/31/12
Loc: Cold Hole, Vermont
Originally Posted By: headstonelvr11
I only live 40 miles away Jen thanks for letting me know If I can go I will take loads of photos

Did you make it to this exhibition? Inquiring minds want to know (and see the pictures you took...)

I wish I'd known about this or seen the thread sooner. I live in Bennington, 2 miles from the museum.


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