Due to COVID-19, our programs and events for the remainder of 2020 have been cancelled. We are looking forward to getting together with you in 2021. Until then, stay healthy and safe.
The Noah Blake Outhouse, Rebuilt and Returned
In the summer of 2016, Barb Russ of the Eric Sloane Museum was made aware of an estimate to have the Noah Blake Outhouse refurbished, the low estimate coming in at over $7,500. Friends board founder and president James Mauch conferred with Barb and with Catherine Labadia of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development concerning the willingness of the state to have the Friends assume responsibility for the outhouse, and it was agreed that James would either restore or replicate the outhouse based upon an assessment of the structure.
The underside of the Noah Blake outhouse revealed the substantial degradation of the bottom support structure. Much of the wood showed signs of wood destroying insect infestation.
The initial intent was to repair the outhouse following the recommendations set forth by the architectural firm hired by the state of Connecticut to provide building assessments for structures at the Eric Sloane Museum of Kent. Unfortunately, the outhouse was more substantively degraded than it appeared in situ. After a thorough condition assessment, it was determined that it would have been very difficult and not cost effective to repair the outhouse following the plan set forth in the architectural overview document. It was far more cost effective to replace the outhouse, with the added benefit that the outhouse would be more in keeping historically with what Eric Sloane envisioned in Diary of An Early American Boy.
Interior framing of the Noah Blake outhouse, showing modern dimensional lumber and framing nails.
Detail of the framing used in the Noah Blake outhouse
Unfortunately, most of the sawn lumber was rotted and displayed obvious signs of having been cut with a circular blade. Ironically, Sloane himself wrote of the invention of the circular saw by a Quaker woman in 1825. Others have pointed to an earlier date for the invention, but either historical possibility makes it difficult to believe that an outhouse supposedly standing in 1805 would be clad in boards that were cut by a circular saw.
The approach taken in the reconstruction of the Noah Blake outhouse was one that placed the outhouse in context with both what Eric drew in his illustrations for the Diary book, as well as what was happening historically in the Kent area c. 1805. Both suggested heavier timber framed construction, blacksmith forged nails, period door hinges, split shingle roof shakes, and lumber dressed to reflect ways of working wood in the period.
The discussions and research that informed the approach of the outhouse was considered when discussing the refurbishment of the Noah Blake cabin. The cabin, it turned out, presented many of the exact same challenges as the outhouse, with an added and important twist…
2017: Noah Blake and His Wonderful Cabin
Saturday, May 6th – The Eric Sloane Museum kicks off the 2017 season with a series of lectures by President of the Kent Historical Society, Friends of the Eric Sloane board member, and historian Mike Everett. The first lecture, Nature: The Howling Wilderness will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on May 6th. This talk examines the religious implications of “the untamed wilderness”. For example, early settlers took literally the biblical ideal that man is to organize the land, so colonists brought with them new plants that were to alter the landscape. What are the implications today? Suggested donation of $10 per class or purchase a Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum family level membership for $35 for the year and attend all four classes for free (and receive some great benefits, too!). This lecture includes admission to the museum. Other membership levels are also available.
Saturday & Sunday, May 5th & May 6th – Discounted Admission to the Eric Sloane Museum in conjunction with the Connecticut Antique Machinery Associations Spring Power Up.
Saturday, May 20th – The second in the lecture series sponsored by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum: Geometry – who owned land, how does it get subdivided? What types of regulations were in place compared to today’s standards and what is the evolution of restrictions? This lecture will be held from 9 to 10:30 on May 20th. Suggested donations $10 per class or free with the purchase of a Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum family level membership.
Saturday, June 3rd – The third in the lecture series sponsored by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum: Built Form – Built to Survive, looking for surplus, wealth, organizations of building, how convention of building changes, how a building indicated status using ornamentation to enhance appearance of class. Ordinary versus extraordinary equaled the distinction that continues through today. This lecture will be held Saturday, June 3rd from 9 to 10:30 on June 3rd. Suggested donations $10 per class or free with the purchase of a Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum family level membership.
Saturday June 10th – Connecticut Open House, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free admission to the Eric Sloane Museum. Learn about the restoration of the Noah Blake Cabin, view early American tools and methods of construction that would have been used to build a c. 1805 structure, take a tour of the cabin with Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum founder Jim Mauch, and learn about our upcoming hands-on classes in traditional building skills.
Tuesday, July 4th – The museum will be open from 10 to 4 with the traditional bell ringing at 2:00 PM. The bell ringing is free but admission is charged to visit the museum.
Saturday, August 19th – Ye Olde Tyme Outhouse program in conjunction with the return of the Noah Blake outhouse, restored off-site by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum. Historian Georg Papp will bring outhouse models representing separate eras in addition to display boards, photos and articles. This talk will be informative as well as entertaining with some American history mixed in. The lecture is free but donations on behalf of the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum are welcome. 10 A.M., followed by the re-dedication of the restored Noah Blake outhouse. Sponsored by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum.
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, September 22nd, 23rd, & 24th. Discount admission is being offered in conjunction with the Connecticut Antique Machinery’s Fall Festival, 10 to 4 each day. On Saturday, September 23rd, from noon until 3 p.m., learn about the restoration of the Noah Blake Cabin, view early American tools and methods of construction that would have been used to build a c. 1805 structure, take a tour of the cabin with Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum founder Jim Mauch, and learn about our upcoming hands-on classes in traditional building skills.
October – Fundraising event to raise money for the restoration of the Noah Blake Cabin. More information to be announced.
For more information on any of these programs, please call the museum at 860-927-3849
I hope that I might be quoted someday as having said: “The only value of age is that it gave time for someone to have done something worthwhile”.
-Eric Sloane, The Second Barrel
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Please join us this Saturday on the grounds of the Eric Sloane Museum in Kent, Connecticut, for the opening of the 2017 programming season : Noah Blake and His Wonderful Cabin.
The Eric Sloane Museum kicks off the 2017 season with a series of lectures by President of the Kent Historical Association, Friends of the Eric Sloane board member, and historian Mike Everett. The first lecture, Nature: the Howling Wilderness will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on May 6th. This talk examines the religious implications of “the untamed wilderness”. For example, early settlers took literally the biblical ideal that man is to organize the land, so colonists brought with them new plants that were to alter the landscape. What are the implications today? Suggested donation of $10 per class or purchase a Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum family level membership for $35 for the year and attend all four classes for free (and receive some great benefits, too!). This lecture includes admission to the museum. Other membership levels are also available.
Some great photographs can be found at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collections Division. The photographs show the finished version of Eric Sloane’s Earth Flight Environment as well as some images of the artist at work. I did not realize that there is another Eric Sloane mural, hidden currently behind a wall, in the Age of Flight section of the museum. From the photograph, it looks like a great mural. Has anyone seen it in person?
Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum board member Jeffrey Bischoff hauled his cider press up from southern Connecticut to press apples during the October the 8th event. Many of the visitors to the October 8th event really enjoyed seeing this in operation, including my daughter Edith and Melissa Roth Cherniske’s son Aiden. Thanks to Jeff for helping to make it a special event!
What a wonderful time we all had Saturday, October 8th! Chef Anne Gallagher helped us to continue to celebrate the New England Apple. During the year, we have celebrated the theme of “Eric Sloane and the New England Apple” in a variety of creative ways: in the spring, we celebrated in “live form” by working with Peter Montgomery to plant an heirloom variety orchard now known as the “Noah Blake Orchard”, in the summer we celebrated the apple artistically during the annual art exhibit and sale by focusing the artists’ attention on the apple as a source of inspiration, and this past Saturday we celebrated the apple in a culinary way with Chef Anne.
Chef Anne created a number of amazing dishes, including some delicious fresh-baked apple muffins and scrumptious mini burgers grilled on apple wood served with cheddar and apple salsa. We had some scions from the Seek-No-Further apple tree (see Eric Sloane’s A Reverence for Wood for his thoughts on the tree) that were chipped into dry smoking wood that Anne used throughout the day. Everything Anne served was DELICIOUS!
Our thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the New England Apple with us!
Our thanks to Melissa Roth Cherniske, who sent to me this photo of her son Aiden and my daughter Edith pressing apples with Jeff Bischoff on October the 8th. Melissa’s family is delightful – Aiden is a true gentleman and a very interesting young man, and her husband Darrell is incredibly helpful to us during and after our events. Our thanks to your wonderful family!