West Village Meeting House marks its 50th year with virtual exhibit

WEST BRATTLEBORO — At its March 21 service, All Souls Church released a new section of the church website at ascvt.org celebrating the 50th anniversary of its West Village Meeting House.

The church had planned a major celebration event for the 50th anniversary, but COVID-19 intervened. So the church built a special section of the website instead.

The virtual exhibit was developed by many church members, with Christina Gibbons serving as chief archivist.

Gibbons said in a news release that she hopes the exhibit will spark memories for others and that the site has a function to allow people to pass along their thoughts.

A virtual exhibit

Because the West Village Meeting House has been home or host to many organizations and events over the years, the section of the website contain material of interest to folks not associated with the church.

Combing the church paper archives and old issues of the Brattleboro Reformer, the site reviews the history of the building and church from its home on Main Street to the move to South Street in West Brattleboro.

For example, one page has a copy of a 1972 article written by former Reformer Publisher John Hooper explaining why the church named the building the “West Village Meeting House” instead of simply “All Souls Church.”

Other pages document the use of the building by local music organizations, including the Brattleboro Music Center, the Chelsea House Folklore Center, and the Western Winds. Art exhibits are covered, too, as the church continues to provide exhibit space for local artists.

And there were the summers that featured “Camp Hogwarts” for area children.

Theater history is also included, covering the Vermont Theatre Company, performances of the local duo Peter Gould and Stephen Stearns, and church productions in the past, as well as the current-day operations of Theatre Adventure, a nonprofit connecting actors with and without developmental challenges.

And the collection would not be complete without recognizing that other religious organizations have used the building. It was home to the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community for many years.

Reminiscing on video

In a video reminiscence, James Levinson describes the first interfaith Jewish/Muslim service after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Amer Latif wrote about a meditation/study group for Sufism.

This group offered the Mevlevi ceremony of whirling, Sema, every year in the mid-1990s at the West Village Meeting House. These large gatherings drew an average of more than 100 attendees. Musicians would come from Boston to perform the contemplative compositions.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates