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On this week’s Peace of History:
We take a brief look at one of our most affordable and charming buildings availability for rent: Chuck’s Cabin. Not much historical documentation exists about the building, but we know some details about its past, and can make educated guesses about others. Built as a Finnish sauna during the migration wave into eastern Connecticut from New York sometime between 1920 and 1960, the building has an opening in the rock foundation for access under the sauna, and it originally included a hole in the floor where the woodstove and heating stones would have been. There is a small stream next to the building which has filled in with silt over the years, but it had formerly provided water for the sauna. Saunas were often one of the first buildings to be built by a Finnish family or small community when moving to a new place, and this one likely served either the Hebert family (the last owners of the property) or the family that owned the property before them. Since the sauna was so integral to traditional Finnish hygiene and culture, they were typically built to be rather comfortable and spacious, and it was not uncommon for them to include windows to let in natural light.
After the establishment of the Voluntown Peace Trust, the sauna was repurposed as a temporary living facility and served that function for years. In the late 1990s, the building was repurposed again, this time by Chuck Matthei, the Executive Director of Equity Trust, Inc. when the organization was based at VPT. It was remodeled to be a year-round, Walden-esque cabin for Chuck while he continued his work of supporting community land trusts and other alternative economic systems.
We will return to Chuck Matthei and the story of Equity Trust, Inc. at a later date. Chuck passed away in 2002 due to complications with cancer, but we still call the building that he called home “Chuck’s Cabin” in his memory. The interior is relatively unchanged from when Chuck lived there, and guests can appreciate the rich history of this little cabin: from the original wood panel walls from its days as a family sauna, to the little quirks and rustic hominess that Chuck added in his time.
Next week: we will focus our spotlight on our final building currently available for overnight rentals: the Yurt! We’ll tell you about the traditional history of these buildings, and how we acquired this one.
Attached is a panoramic photo of the interior of Chuck’s Cabin. If you are interested in renting this cabin full of history and charisma, please visit the link below: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/rentals.html