You can save the cabin
mission…help us to save the Noah Blake Cabin.
An Open Letter from Jim Mauch
If you are like the hundreds of admirers of Eric Sloane’s work I have had the privilege to meet over the past twenty years as a museum volunteer and founder of the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum, you are dismayed that Eric’s recreation of the cabin he depicted in Diary of An Early American Boy: Noah Blake 1805 has been closed to the public for nearly a decade. Neglected, abandoned, locked – a sad irony given that, in research conducted by the Friends, a desire to tour the cabin is given as the primary reason why people visit the museum.
One of the principle reasons for founding the Friends was to somehow shepherd the Noah Blake cabin from a dilapidated structure off limits to the public toward a rehabilitated and welcoming attraction for a new generation of visitors. Our more immediate goals were to infuse life into museum programming. We stayed focused and recognized that we needed to build rapport and credibility with the state of Connecticut, the entity that owns and manages the museum. We succeeded by developing small and medium sized projects – a traditional dry laid New England stone wall gathering area, a series of classes and programs that encouraged active participation by museum visitors, an annual art exhibit and sale, reclamation and beautification of the grounds between the museum and iron furnace – and so much more.
Our efforts, our members, our contributors, our friends, our families, and our supporters have helped us to reach this moment when we embark on our most ambitious project to date – the restoration of the Noah Blake cabin.
This project will be funded entirely by private donation and our initial fundraising campaign seeks to raise $50,000 towards the restoration.
All of us who are a part of the larger Eric Sloane community can recount the way we ‘found’ Eric and his work. My guide along the pathway towards Eric Sloane was my grandfather, Alfred Erwin (to whom I dedicated Aware). My grandfather introduced me to Diary of an Early American Boy and my life has not been the same since I read the book more than twenty years ago at his behest. I am pleased to tell you that Beth, Edith and I are pledging $10,000 to the Noah Blake Cabin Restoration Fund in memory of my paternal grandparents, Alfred and Harriet Erwin, and in honor of our Edith. My grandparents were THE reason why Eric Sloane is an integral part of my life and Edith and young people like her is THE motivation behind my work with the museum.
What is your connection to the cabin, the story, the museum, or to the life and work of Eric Sloane? I urge you to support our efforts to restore the Noah Blake cabin by pledging your financial support today. When you do, tell us your story of your connection to Eric Sloane, the museum he founded, and the Noah Blake cabin. We’ll publish your story here on our website, www.noahblakecabin.org.
Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum Board Member
Help us bring the magic back to Kent!
When children visit the museum now, they compare the cabin with the one in my book, picking out this log ladder, that bottle window, the dirt floor, feeling the spirit of American pioneer days, imagining themselves living the historic experience.
– Eric Sloane (1985)
An Open Letter From Jeffrey Bischoff
In 1972, during a visit to Old Sturbridge Village, my mother bought us Eric Sloane’s “Diary of an Early American Boy” and my friendship with Noah Blake was started. I would spend hours reading about Noah’s life as a young boy in backwoods Colonial America. I imagined myself tapping maple trees and growing apples and corn. (All things I do as an adult, I wonder why)
Sloane was a magician. He used art to tell stories, and used the stories to teach history. He drew a picture of the cabin with Noah’s mother scratching a fancy design in the dirt floor and it drew me in. I imagined what she was making for dinner and how they stayed warm when the winter winds were howling at the walls of their cabin.
Turn the page and we get to see the cabin’s sleeping loft and Sloane illustrates how the heat from the fire would swirl upwards to the loft. There on the next page is an example of five different ladders that Noah’s father Izaak may have fashioned out of a tree he felled using his straight handled ax. (The curved handle ax didn’t come into use until 1840. Sloane teaches us that on page 9).
The “Diary of an Early American Boy” is the most diversely educational and entertaining book I have ever read, and read, and read and read again today. And the Noah Blake cabin is at the center of it all.
When Jim Mauch told me he had petitioned the State of Connecticut to allow our group to refurbish the cabin, and he had received permission, I actually shed a tear.
Eric Sloane himself had helped build the original cabin , 40 years ago. The Noah Blake ladder is inside, leaning up against the exact sleeping loft that Sloane had etched into my childhood dreams. But the cabin has been pad locked to the public for at least 10 years due to its state of crumbling disrepair.
I hope you can afford to help us refurbish the cabin. We have the craftsmen lined up, headed by our fearless leader Jim Mauch, an antique barn restorer in his spare time. The state of Connecticut gave us permission, but no money. Please help us bring Noah’s cabin back to life.
Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum board member
© 2016 The Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum. All photographs used by permission of the Estate of Eric Sloane.