By RUSSELL JONES
GOSHEN — Sometime during the week of July 15, the Ruth Stone House in Goshen was burglarized. Thieves took most of a recent delivery of reclaimed pine flooring and several of the foundation’s power tools.
The Vermont Poet Laureate and National Book Award winner owned the historic home, thought to have been built in the 1830s, from 1956 until 2011. Ruth’s granddaughter, Bianca Stone, has been working with her husband, Ben Pease, to restore the home to its former glory and transform it into a writers retreat since 2013, although a concentrated effort did not begin until 2016.
The goal is to be able to provide artists with a quiet place to hone their craft among like-minded artists and also have a sounding board for new material.
“The mission of the foundation is to be able to provide artists with time and space to work on their poetry,” Pease said. “Being able to read their work to a group who will listen to it intensely inspires people to write.”
Even though work on the home is not yet finished, the foundation began meeting with authors years ago with poetry workshops in Brandon.
“We started in the Brandon library, but then moved the group to our home,” Pease said. “We do workshops every week and readings at least once a month, but in July it seems like we did one a week.”
The workshops attract poets who have written extensively, including published artists, but Pease said they are for everyone, even those who are just curious about writing poetry.
The work on the historic home has been moving along slowly but steadily, with Pease and Bianca’s brother, Walter Stone, doing much of the work. Walter said the community has been very supportive, which makes the theft that much more disappointing.
“It’s very disheartening,” Walter said. “Much of the flooring that was stolen was donated from a very generous contributor, but we aren’t letting it slow us down.”
Despite the setback, Walter and Pease said they would finish the floor this week, and plan on holding the first workshop in Ruth’s old home in August.
“It’s exciting because that will be the first time we’ll be using the home as what we intended it for,” Walter said. “This is only a little setback in our mission.”
The reclaimed flooring was worth several thousand dollars, but several boards of the home’s original flooring were also taken, which Pease said was hard to value.
“That original flooring was milled in the 1800s,” he said. “It’s just hard to replace that or put a value on it.”
Almost all the foundation’s power tools were stolen as well.
The foundation reported the theft this past week, but Pease said they haven’t heard any news or updates from the state police. They held a fundraiser/celebration of the support they have received in Winooski on Friday, July 26 with a poetry reading at Wishbone Collective.
Pease and Walter said there are still some things that could help the process.
“Some of the work we just can’t do and we have to hire professionals,” Walter said. “We appreciate any professional volunteers that want to donate even a half-day of help on the project.”
Monetary donations can be made at ruthstonefoundation.org.
“The disappointment of having these things stolen only makes us want to overcome this,” Pease said.