Walking the Halls with the Spirits of 100 Years

Today, the 14th of September, 2011, I have completed a task that has allowed me to make a little bit of my own “Pemi history.” I am sitting at the end of the Big House table in the second oldest building at Camp Pemigewassett in the White Mountain wilderness of New Hampshire.

In 1909, the “Three Docs,” or the original three founders of camp, Doc Gar Fauver, Doc Win Fauver, and Doc Reed, built the “Big House” up the hill. Complete with a kitchen, living and dining room, and three little cubicles for bedrooms, the Big House has been the central focus of the elusive land “up the hill” for over a hundred years. I took on the task this summer of renovating and revitalizing the sacred space.

Used every year for the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the Big House is the storage place for the G&S props, costumes, make-up and scores. I began my adventures in the Big House by organizing all of the G&S “stuff”. It is now organized, neat, catalogued, and labeled (Thank you, Mrs. Pannell), as well as color-coated according to show. The four shows that we rotate  performances of are HMS Pinafore, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, and Iolanthe. The last has not been done in a while due to its complexity. This year, we performed The Mikado, and it was a great success.

After organizing all of the G&S stuff, I took my scrub brush, Murphy’s Oil Soap (per Chris Jacobs’ suggestion), and a lot of TLC and elbow grease to the 102-year-old log walls. In an interview with Al Fauver, the Big House was originally made of poplar logs. The locals told the three Docs that there was no way the house would last more than ten years due to the poor quality of poplar. Little did they know that they would last at least 100 years.

I scrubbed off 100 year’s worth of grime and dirt. The logs are now a beautiful, rich, honey-colored gold. The windows and the doors have a fresh coat of what Chris Jacobs calls “camp green”, and the original cubicle wall with the three separate doors is now a lovely off-white color to open the room up and present a perfect place for some old photographs to be hung and displayed.

The opportunity to work in such a hallowed and sacred space and make such a drastic change is far beyond exceptional, and I’m enormously glad to be able to tell the stories of my time spent within these walls. The Pemi spirit goes far beyond the cabin doors and the athletic field during the short seven weeks during the summer. Whether it be in personal day-to-day interactions with friends and acquaintances or in the careful, passionate work of revitalizing a space where it all began over 100 years ago, the honor, respect, and sanctity of the Pemigewassett family, grounds, and spirit will never die in me, for sure, and I doubt it will escape literally thousands of others.

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