Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stetson, Maine: Commonwealth of Lanternshire (1971-1984)

Beaver Dam on a Brook in Stetson, Maine

My original dream vision for building an intentional community was inspired by a "House for Sale" article in Yankee Magazine I saw in the Fall of 1971 0n Nantucket Island, whereas a fallen down farmhouse in Wolcott, Vermont was offered for sale at $20,000 (land value only for 200 acres situated on both sides of the Lamoille River, as the structure was not worth saving). Though I was unable to afford the purchase price, I began envisioning first a community house somewhere in the Green Mountain State on whatever I amount of land I could buy there, but by 1974 when I had enough money for buying land at $100 per acre I settled for 10 acres, more or less, in the woods of central Maine. By the Fall of 1978 I had erected an 18' x 24' wood frame "camp" on the property which was the first segment of "The House at Pinewoods Hollow," also known as "The Schoolhouse" (as its timbers came from the dismantled frame of the old schoolhouse in Bradley, Maine recently demolished). My money ran out and people helping me to realize this vision abandoned the project plus employment at the woolen mill in Corinna (10 miles from Stetson) was no longer an option for me, so I returned to Nantucket, MA in order to find work. Though I purchased 10+ more acres of adjacent property on the other side of Bloody Brook in the mid-1980's with a mortgage taken back by the owner on 50 more acres (which I couldn't maintain, even with a reasonable payment schedule) I never built "Rosebriar Hall," the community house, or constructed any Householder Cottages on the mortgaged portion because I was forced to forfeit my claim on it and sold it back to him at a loss. By 1984, hornets infested the attic of my camp and beavers had dammed Bloody Brook causing the bog behind it to flood to the point that I could never complete the approved house design for Pinewoods Hollow as the Wetlands Act rendered the site impossible to use and my original building permit had since expired. In 2003, when I sold the 21 acres left from my intentional community experiment as a woodlot, the land had come full circle. It started as a woodlot and it ended up being sold as one. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" as they say!

At age 65 my dream is far from dead as I now live on Baker Road in Shutesbury, MA a half mile from Sirius Community, which was founded in 1978 by four individuals coming from Findhorn, Scotland to start an intentional community in the Pioneer Valley. So I came to Sirius, participated in a 5-week Immersion Program, and received a new vision for a remote Householder Cottage located in Leverett, MA yet connected to Sirius which is to be known as"Lantern Shire Commons." The beavers may have claimed the property in Stetson, ME preventing its use as a viable site for building an intentional community, but my dream is still very much alive. ~ JDHWB-R

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