By Susan Durant
“I wake up every morning amazed I am living in a 200-year-old house. The fact that it is still standing is a testament that they knew how to build them then,” said the Rev. Lee Crawford, the current resident of the Josiah Wood Farmhouse (now the vicarage for Church of Our Saviour at Mission Farm). She went on to say that, it is still pretty much architecturally intact.
Crawford says she loves to celebrate anniversaries. She said, “The 200th anniversary of the vicarage is a good reason to invite the rest of Killington to stop and look again at this farm they see from Route 4. We have lost a lot of Killington’s historic buildings. Mission Farm is still here and part of Killington’s history.”
The 200th anniversary celebration of the vicarage is from 3-6 p.m., July 23, at 316 Mission Farm Road in Killington and all will be welcome to join in this celebration.
In 1797, nine years after the original settlers arrived, Josiah Wood, Jr. and his wife Judith settled in Killington. They worked the farm and raised their 10 children at what is now known as Mission Farm. In 1817, the original farmhouse burned down, and he Wood built the current Georgian-style vernacular house across Mission Farm Road where it now stands.
Wood’s farmhouse not only served as the family’s home, but also as a tavern stand and the township’s first hotel. In 1821, Wood adapted the house for the schooling of his and neighboring children. After Wood died in 1857, the property passed through different owners. His daughter, Elizabeth Wood Clement, purchased the property in the mid-1890’s as a memorial to her deceased children and husband.
Clement rehabilitated her childhood home and built the mission church, which is now Church of Our Saviour (COS). When the work was finished, Clement deeded the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont. Clement’s dream for Mission Farm was that it be a place for the local communities of Killington, Bridgewater, and Plymouth to use “for social gathering, both mundane and sacred, … to create a place of hospitality, care, and cultivation of the land.”
Mission Farm has always been what we see now— a congregation of about 20 people that serves the greater Killington community, not only as a spiritual anchor, but also to meet worldlier needs. Mary Jenne has been a member of COS since she was christened as an infant in 1936. She married her husband Bud Jenne at COS in 1985. The Jennes agree the makeup of the congregation has not changed much over the years. Mary Jenne described it as a small, loving, kind, welcoming community that feels like family.
The Jennes’ earliest memories of Mission Farm include Father Truman Heminway and his wife Gertrude. When the Heminways arrived in 1931, the property was in dire need of repairs. The previous priest had left in 1926. Heminway worked hard to rehabilitate the property and re-establish a congregation. Fr. Heminway lived there as the vicar until his death in 1957. Mary Jenne remembered as a child she was afraid of Fr. Heminway. He was firm and intense in his religious beliefs. She also remembers him as hard working, kind and loving.
Bud Jenne remembered the Heminways as being very involved and caring to the community. He said that the Heminways would never turn anyone in need away and always had guests in their home or the carriage house he converted into a guest house. Crawford added, “Boys from St. Paul’s School, Concord, N.H., and men from Yale University would stay with the Heminways to learn, pray with him while they worked the fields and share meals at the guest house.” Heminway served as Killington town moderator for 11 years.
Fr. Dan Goldsmith (vicar from 1964-90) is still remembered by many people in the Killington Valley, as both a priest and farmer. Crawford said, “Fr. Dan was rarely seen not wearing his cassock.”
When she arrived at COS in 2013, a town local asked if she would be out in the fields in her cassock just like Fr. Dan. That comment motivated Crawford to have a picture taken of her wearing her cassock on a tractor,
in front of the church. Bud Jenne reflected on the generous nature of Goldsmith. He said that Fr. Dan would hold an annual corn roast for the community with the corn he harvested from his fields.
Hospitality and community service is still alive and well at Mission Farm. “Locals found water and Meals-Ready-to-Eat in the parish hall right after Hurricane Irene,” said Crawford. The guest house is often used for spiritual, community, or family retreats.
Through the years the Josiah Wood, Jr. house has had many different occupants, but there has always been a common thread of hospitality and community service. Thanks to Clement’s generosity, 200 years later, the Josiah Wood, Jr. house is still standing to serve the greater Killington community as the vicarage and office for Church of Our Saviour.
“Her dream for Mission Farm is as alive today as it was then,” said Crawford. She went on to say, “People pick up on the ‘something’ about this place. Now that we have the hiking trails and a public water spigot, more people come and stop and sit and rest a while.”
The public is invited to join members of Church of Our Saviour and others from the Killington community to celebrate 200 years of hospitality at Mission Farm on Sunday, July 23, from 3-6 pm. The afternoon festivities include: tavern food and drink reminiscent of what was served in 1817 (food provided by Mission Farm Bakery) and property tours.
Also included is Vermont en plein aire artist, Peter Huntoon, as seen on Vermont PBS, and Melissa Maravell singing popular music of the 1800s.
The afternoon will conclude with local story tellers. Call 802-422-9064 for more information.
Photo courtesy Susan Durant
Rev. Lee Crawford sits on a tractor near Killington’s Josiah Wood Farmhouse.