Do you remember when the Jeffersonville church burned in March of 1993? Many of us do. The fire was reported at 5am on a Saturday morning and the response from local and neighboring fire departments was swift. We lost a lot that day; not only the building, but historical documents and items. The building was 103 years old having been built in 1889, just two years after the formation of the Second Congregational Church. The community’s response to this devastation was heartwarming.
On October, in an effort to preserve the church history, we held an open house in the Church’s community room displaying documents, pictures and memorabilia dating from 1887 to present. There was also a short film produced by Irving Payne (Modaja Communications) from the hours of videos taken by church member Sue Perry of the fire, dismantling and rebuilding of the church.
The community was invited to stop in for light refreshments, lively conversations, and fond remembrances. We concluded the day with testimonies about the fire in 1993 and rebuilding in 1994, leading up to Pastor Devon’s prayer of Re-Dedication. Melody Tobin was our Master of Ceremony.
Fire Chief Alan Cary and fireman Dan St. Cyr recalled the day’s events and the impact it had on them as they worked to extinguish the fire and began to assess the damage. Tom Fonda, who was responsible for dismantling the building after the fire, recounted how he took his crew away from another job to lend a hand, and the impressions this town icon’s demise made on him. Ernest Krusch, who used his log truck to remove the stained-glass window frame, was also touched by the devastating event, and also by the supportive community of people who worked together on a moment’s notice. Rev. David Ransom (in office at the time of the fire) was present and contributed additional details from his seat in the audience. Finally, Sue Perry spoke about the impact this fire had on her as a parishioner and long-time community resident, as well as her experience filming the rebuilding process, and especially the assembling of the new steeple.
A Big Thank You and Sincere Gratitude for the many Contributors and Publications that made this project possible.
Vermont Historical Gazetter: A Magazine embracing a History of Each Town, Volume II (1867) – Early History of Cambridge by Ida Morgan Anderson as published by the Town Crier (1936) – Historical Sketch of the Second Congregational Church, Compiled by Mrs. M.S. Hawley (1937) – The History of Cambridge, Vermont, Compiled by Winona Noble (1976) – Sally May’s Congregational Life Thesis (Oct. 2008) – Cambridge, Vermont Special Places, Special People, by Robert S. Marsh (2011) – Cambridge Historical Society: Especially Peter Opstrup and Geana Little.
A special thank you to Sue Perry for all the hours of video taping, and her vast knowledge of the church’s history; to Irving Payne, for his talents, equipment and production of the fire and rebuilding process video clip. Many thanks to Joanne Osgood and her mother, Giselle Laliberte, for a wonderful job in creating the clipping book and many of the albums.
Thank you to Sally Reynolds and Jane Porter for searching and sorting through information from oh so many places, and to Holly Spier for loaning us the display cases for the cross collection.
Also, thank you to all the people who helped with bits of information and suggestions that kept up the momentum and, of course, to the wonderful individuals who helped with the setup and refreshments… and THANK YOU for coming.