Phil Chapman’s Memories of the origin of West Village Meeting House

From a phone interview in March, 2020  by Christina Gibbons

Phil and his wife Alice Chapman were very active in All Souls Church in the 1960s.  He remembers climbing MT Washington with John and Calista Kristensen, sitting at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, and talking about the inadequacies of the downtown building:  the entry stairs were hard for older people, there wasn’t enough parking after the post office went up, and it was expensive to heat.  They began to wonder if it wasn’t time to build a new building.  They came back and began to talk to other church members and the idea blossomed.

The land belonged to Prentiss Smith, then Esta’s husband, who sold it to the church.  Phil remembers going to a sign maker in Hinsdale and paying $15 for a sign at the bottom of the hill which said something like “On the hill behind this sign, a church will be built.”  This was even before the driveway went in.

Around this time, Phil and Alice separated and Phil moved out of town.  He recalls that an architect from Boston was chosen.  He doesn’t remember a fund drive and thinks someone made a substantial donation to the new space.

Phil also mentioned that in the 60s he was head of the Board and pledging was accomplished by an every member canvass.  On one Sunday afternoon, half the members went out to visit the other half.  ASC paid their full time minister the highest clergy salary in Brattleboro.  He would love to see ASC build back up to a full time minister.  He thinks it is important for Brattleboro to have a UU church.

Phil shared that he is 96 years old.  

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