Maggie's Chapel, made of stone, going up in Halifax


HALIFAX >> From a chapel being assembled with stones, you can see the Haystack and Hogback mountains, and other sites in the Deerfield Valley.

"This is my fourth summer but I've been doing a lot more than this," Ben Bowen said overlooking the 28 acres he helps tend in other ways. "I rocked this whole field. All the stones came off the property."

Artsit David Brewster owns the house and the land at 114 Stowe Mountain Road in Halifax. The American painter's art has been featured in exhibitions at several museums throughout the United States. His work also has been on display in Ireland, France and Thailand. Some collections were kept permanently.

This year, Brewster's "Magnetic Circuitries" was displayed at the A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton, Mass., and "Quixotic Encounters" was at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester. His work can be seen at Described by Brewster, the paintings are "most often executed in one swift pass, with the graphic urgency of improvisational response underscoring all decisions and informing the energy of the mark."

Maggie's Chapel will be dedicated to Brewster's mother, who died a few years ago.

Originally, the plan was to build "a lot smaller," said Bowen. Once the foundation was laid out, he was asked to extend it. The exterior now stands at approximately 18-by-18 feet and the walls are about three-and-a-half feet thick.

"He (Brewster) wanted it higher so you could see the view better," said Bowen, who skinned logs then locked them into the rear of the chapel. "It's a project that keeps evolving and changing."

The windows, Bowen was told, were from the late 1770s. The doors have not gone up yet; Brewster will have the ability to take them off during the summer and put them back on in the winter. Benches on two sides of the chapel are ready for sitting.

Currently, Bowen is trying to get stones up to the point where the roof begins. He went with purlins rather than rafters. Purlins are beams that run horizontally.

A caretaker employed at the residence has assisted Bowen with gathering rocks.

"We'd kind of trade off," Bowen said. "I'd help with mulch and do stuff with the tractor."

Bowen put up stone walls and built a fire pit on Brewster's property before he started on the chapel. He has been working there for five years.

For 26 years, Bowen has done stonework. He said it's the self-gratification that draws him to the work.

"I've been playing around since I was 15," said Bowen. "It makes you feel good when you complete something and you can be like, 'I built that.' I'm always doing something different."

He hopes to finish the chapel — a type of project he said he always wanted to do — by the end of next summer.

"That's crossing my fingers and it depends on how much I get dragged away from here," he said.

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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