by Carla Occaso/photos by Rick McMahan
MONTPELIER — People gathered at Morse Farm Sugarworks August 15 to observe a ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the newly reconstructed Woodshed Theater. The theater is located adjacent to one of the farm’s most important piece of machinery — it’s evaporator. Those who have been to any sugar shack know the evaporator is the giant gleaming tub in which sap is boiled down to become delicious pure maple syrup that most Vermonters don’t like to do without. It is the place people congregate during mud season to say ‘goodbye’ to winter, swap stories and watch the sap boil to a nice golden hue.
The Woodshed Theater was built over 40 years ago, said Jacob Shattuck, nephew of Burr Morse — owner of Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. Those who visit may sit down and watch a video presented by the family about its history and other details. There are also historic items on display. Once such item is a carriage that belonged to Shattuck’s great-great grandfather George Aiken, Vermont’s 64th governor and U.S. Senator from 1941 to 1975.
The refurbished structure was built by Tom Morse, Aaron Codling and Erich Fagginger-Auer. “What Erich and Aaron and Tommy did is absolutely amazing,” Shattuck said. Primarily, the building has been given a new entryway and has been restructured to make it stronger. While it is new and improved, it is also largely the same with wood piled up as part of the wall in the front. Sherwood Morse and Fagginger-Auer obtained wood used in the project from the Morse property, planed it down and transported it to the building spot by tractor.
Seating is made from tree stumps so each person in the audience will have his or her own new tree stump to sit on as opposed to the previous pew seating arrangement.
So what’s next? Shattuck said now that the theater has been fixed up the crew will focus on the sugarhouse. Built in the late 1960s by Harry and Dorothy “Dot” Morse, it is getting old now and could use a rehab.
But for now, there is plenty for people to see and do at the Morse’s. “We welcome everyone to the sugarhouse,” Shattuck said in parting.