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The Butler Lodge Renovation
Many Hands, Many Voices (07/01)


On June 3, 2001, the section hosted the grand re-opening of Butler Lodge. We intentionally planned the celebration as a tribute to the volunteers who made the project possible.

Even the food for the party — including five cakes and four gallons of cider — was divided up at the trail head and carried the 1.6 miles uphill. In intermittent drizzle and chill temperatures so typical of a Vermont spring, Dave Hardy, Dana Baron, Phil Hazen, Scott Christiansen, John Brown, and Leo Leach told the story of the dismantling and rebuilding of the lodge. Gary Sawyer sent along the final observation which sums up the spirit of cooperation that created the new Butler Lodge.

Dave Hardy (GMC Staff)

It was important to maintain Butler's"look” since it is the most photographed lodge on the Long Trail. It is eligible for the National Historic Register and one of our few remaining log structures dating from the 1930's. With the help of Mary Jo Llewellyn and Dana Baron, we completed a 106-page report documenting both the historic structure and our work plan. While the constraints of historic preservation contributed to colorful language at the work site, the volunteers and staff faithfully reconstructed the lodge. The dry-laid foundation should prevent rotting sills and floor joists, and the porch on the western wall provides a wonderful view of Butler's fabled sunsets.

Dana Baron (Past President)

I dealt with helicopters. The people from JBI (the helicopter company) were just great in all respects. They were friendly, well-organized, and fantastic at their jobs. Our pilot, Carl Svenson, put down huge loads on a dime through thick clouds. Rumor has it that he paid a visit late in the summer to see how things were progressing. A helicopter like the one he used for our fly-in did hover for a few minutes over Butler one sunny day in August.

Phil Hazen (Outings Committee Co-chair)

It seems we moved about 20,000 pounds (10 tons) of rock to build a foundation approximately two feet higher that the old one. We used a grip hoist with cables, bars, and an assortment of pulleys, slings, and volunteers to move rocks weighing up to 400 pounds from above the lodge to the new foundation. A homeless"grip hoist erratic” sits a few feet south of the lodge. Perhaps the next ice age will move it to its final resting place.

Scott Christiansen (Laraway Section Volunteer)

We started jacking up the structure on a rainy Sunday afternoon in June. We weren't sure what was holding the old lodge together, if the jacks would lift the top half, or whether the supporting logs would hold. I used a short piece of rebar to twist the screw jack; it ended up looking like a pretzel. At one point, when we had lifted the top half a few inches and were jacking on the back (uphill side), the shelter groaned and the top hopped a half inch down the supporting logs, as though intending to slide down the ledge into the clearing. I caught my breath and slowly opened my eyes to see it was still there. We quit for the day soon after. I was glad to find when I returned the following weekend that Mike and Matt had finished jacking the roof up 24” to its new height.

John Brown (Section Volunteer)

At the Stevensville trailhead, GMC Executive Director Ben Rose and his daughter met seven girl scouts, aged 13-16, on their way to the Twin Brooks tenting area. The Roses spoke enthusiastically about moving rocks at Butler Lodge. The next day, the scouts and their two leaders came to Butler asking to help. Mike Dwyer assigned them to move small rocks needed for foundation fill. One or two of them initially disdained the dirty operation. Some held the rocks at arms' length to not soil their shirts. One of them muddied her face brushing away a mosquito. Soon, however, they were all painting their faces with mud, putting on mud packs, and clutching the rocks close to their bodies.

GMC had a strong mandate by the Historic Preservation Committee to preserve the windows, even though these could have been purchased or replicated by a shop. The old windows had carving, chipped paint, weathered glazing, broken and cracked panes, broken and missing mullions, and wood rot. We scraped and sanded the window frames. We started out needing about 30 new panes, but with breakage, the number increased to 70. We topped the window frames with a fire engine red paint and all agreed the brilliant windows gave the lodge the trim it needed.

Leo Leach (Project Coordinator)

Shadoe, my dog, and I were at the Stevensville trailhead packing in supplies and tools to Taylor Lodge when we met Don Dewees. He planned to hike to Butler Lodge, but changed his mind and offered to help us. As we climbed, he told me he had put his dog to sleep that morning and came to the trail because he wanted to be alone. He said he found comfort in having Shadoe along. At Taylor, Don left us and continued on to Butler where he talked with Mike Dwyer and Matt Sapir. A week later, Don returned and carried out two window frames which he repaired in his home and brought back up with extra mullions. It’s the effort of people like him that made the project a success.

Gary Sawyer (Vermont Dept. Of Forests, Parks and Recreation)

It has been a long and interesting trail to this point regarding Butler. One of the things that stands out for me was the cooperation between all parties. I can't remember a time when we worked so well together, the state, the club, the section, and volunteers. I feel proud to be part of this. There has been a lot of animosity over the years. Butler helped bridge that. Overall, it is one of the best projects I have been involved with in my nearly 24 years with the state. I have gained a great deal of respect for the incredible cadre of volunteers out there.

(Thank you to Leo Leach, Sarah Berger, Dana Baron, Dave Hardy, and Mary Lou Recor for planning and organizing the celebration.)