RUTLAND—A sculpture of Ann and Solomon Story, who aided Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys during the Revolutionary War while forging a new life on the American frontier, will soon grace West Street in downtown Rutland.
A model of what will be a 7-foot-tall, 4-foot wide piece of art, which will feature Ann Story peering from the doorway of her log home, her son at her side, a sense of anticipation evident in their gazes and posture, was unveiled Friday, May 18. The piece is one of three sculptures planned this summer through a collaboration between the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, Green Mountain Power, MKF Properties and Vermont Quarries, with additional partners involved in each sculpture.
The Ann Story piece is being funded by descendants of Evelyn Gammons Costello, a Rutland resident who, like Story, was widowed and overcame great challenges. GMP Vice President Steve Costello, Gammons Costello’s grandson, said the sculpture was a way for family members to support Rutland and honor their grandmother and parents, who were devoted to Rutland.
“ The city rallied around them after our grandfather’s death in 1928, helping Gram and our Uncle Dick keep nine children fed, clothed and educated,” Costello said. “In funding the sculpture of Ann and Solomon Story, we’re excited to honor their amazing bravery and determination during the American Revolution, while dedicating the piece to our forbearers, who have inspired a community-service ethic for generations.”
Mark Foley Jr., owner of MKF Properties, is Gammons Costello’s great-grandson. “Great Gram was strong willed, tough and loving, attributes she shared with Ann Story, and instilled in her children,” Foley said. “Raising the funds from family members was a natural. Cousins from across the country wanted to participate in this project. No matter where they live today, there is a deep and abiding love for Rutland, and an incredible fidelity to family. We see this as an expression of love for what Rutland meant to her, and to our family over four generations and counting.”
The project is part of an ongoing collaboration aimed at installing at least 10 large marble sculptures in downtown Rutland over the next several years, highlighting local and regional history. Another in the series, “Stone Legacy,” a tribute to the region’s stone industry funded by GMP and MKF, was recently installed in the new Center Street Marketplace, which will open this summer. A tribute to Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book”, written in southern Vermont, stands outside Phoenix Books, which underwrote the project.
The Ann Story piece was designed by artist Amanda Sisk, who lived in a rural yurt while creating the model, or maquette. The sculpture will be carved by artist Evan Morse and is expected to be complete in September.
“Two qualities I admire about Ann Story are perseverance and calm under pressure,” Sisk said. “As I worked on the maquette in 106 acres of protected woods without amenities such as running water and electricity – and relied on chopped wood for heat – I also gained an appreciation for the pioneer challenges that Ann, her son Solomon, and the rest of her family and contemporaries faced.”
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be involved in the Ann Story project and to all the members of the Rutland community who have made the project possible,” sculptor Evan Morse said. “It’s a well-deserved tribute to a heroic figure from Vermont’s history, and additionally, it pays tribute to Rutland’s marble industry. I’m looking forward to working throughout the summer at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center, a community that I have valued being a part of since 2009. I hope to do justice to Amanda Sisk’s model and to the legacy of Ann Story.”
Story, a widow with five children, lived in Rutland before moving to a house built by her husband in Salisbury, near Otter Creek. Living on what was essentially frontier land sought by both British and American settlers, she often fed and housed Ethan Allen’s men. Her son once took a note, written on a page from her Bible, by horseback to Fort Ticonderoga to warn Allen about a British spy who threatened to kill her. The spy was caught along with numerous other Tories, and spent the rest of the war in prison.
A sculpture honoring Olympic and environmental hero and Rutland native Andrea Mead Lawrence, funded by Casella Waste Systems, will be carved by a team led by CSSC instructor Steve Shaheen this summer. The third piece scheduled for installation this year, funded by Rutland Regional Medical Center, will honor black Vermonters, including many Rutlanders, who were among the first African Americans to enter the U.S. Army after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Local artist Don Ramey will carve that piece.
“Each of these pieces highlights a special event, person or people who contributed to this region, and in many cases, the world beyond,” said Carol Driscoll, executive director of the CSSC. “At the same time, the project is a reminder of the legacy of the artistry born of the local stone industry, which we continue at the Carving Studio. I expect these pieces will continue to be a source of beauty and education, and a point of pride for Rutlanders and visitors, for generations to come.”
Other possible subjects include Rutland residents and Civil War figures Edward and William Ripley, Rutland’s John Deere, Norman Rockwell, Ethan Allen, Martin Henry Freeman, Alexander Twilight, and Paul Harris of Wallingford, who founded Rotary International.The sculptures will be carved from Danby White marble.
Mayor Dave Allaire, said the sculptures will add a sense of history and beauty to downtown. “Downtown Rutland is filled with beautiful, historic buildings, which will complement the sculptures, and vice versa,” Allaire said. “Watching Stone Legacy’s installation, I was filled with pride and optimism.”