After 77 years on the drawing board, a granite memorial commemorating the establishment in Barre as having the first boy scout troop in America will become a reality. The concept for this monument was first proposed in 1940, when Carlo Abate, one of Barre’s most famous sculptors, created a plaster model, using local boy scouts. The model shows two boys performing a rescue technique called the “fireman’s carry”. Unfortunately Abate passed away in 1941 before carving this model in granite. He lamented on his death bed of being unable to complete this monument. Originally from Italy, Abate came to Barre in 1899 as an avowed Anarchist. He illustrated and published the movement’s newspaper in Barre which was distributed internationally. Over time his political views evolved as he came to love and admire his newly adopted home town of Barre. He established the Barre Evening Drawing School, providing locals an opportunity to have a career working with granite. He is credited with providing future generations of Barre’s youth with a safe working environment in the granite industry, without the risk of contracting a deadly disease called silicosis. His concept of using clean design rooms, instead of breathing in granite in dust filled sheds, protected workers from this disease which typically killed a granite worker before the age of 50.
In 2009, a group of Barre scouting and history enthusiasts formed a committee to complete this unfinished scouting statue as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the founding of Troop 1 in Barre, Vermont in 1909 by William Foster Milne. Billy, as he was affectionately known, was an immigrant granite worker from Aberdeen Scotland, who arrived in The Granite City in 1907. He was already familiar with Baden Powell and the scouting movement in Scotland, and after returning to his homeland in 1909, came back with the authorization to establish in Barre the first troop in America. Immediately upon his return, he started The Boy Scout Club at the First Baptist Church with 14 boys.
The concept for scouting was conceived by Robert Baden Powell, who had, as a young man, been trained by an American Indian fighter in the art of scouting and reconnaissance. Baden Powell then spent many years honing his skills during a very successful military career, serving in the English colonial wars in India and Africa. In December of 1908 Baden Powell published his book “Scouting for Boys” in hopes of passing on some of his methods to English youth in an effort to channel the growing militaristic mood of the country into preparing youth for emergencies, should they arise, or for social purposes. His book soon inspired a movement, whose goal was to channel this growing energy into better health and civic involvement for the youth of Great Britain. The whole world took notice, and so did Billy Milne, who traveled to London to pick up Baden Powell’s scouting materials and bring them to Barre, Vermont.
The statue will be completed by Barre sculptor Giulliano Cechinelli, Jr. and is scheduled to be installed next to the depot at Depot Square in September of 2018. So far $40,000 of the needed $75,000 is in place and the group leading this cause hopes to raise the balance of funds by the end of 2017. The opening campaign for raising the balance will begin with a Barre wide community yard and sidewalk sale scheduled for the weekend of August 26th-27th. A large indoor flea market will be featured for the weekend. In addition a new event, called FallFire, modeled after the very successful RockFire Festival, will be held on Saturday Sept. 23rd at Millstone Hill. This festival will replicate the magic of RockFire by combining music, art and fires on a monumental scale, but with a more family youth friendly approach. Anyone interested in helping at these events are encouraged to call/text Steve Restelli at (802)-310-6868. Or visit our website and make a tax deductible donation ; https://ScoutingMonument.com/donate
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