by Margery Sharp
Alumna keeps Woodstocks history alive
For insight into Woodstock past and present one could
find no better tour guide than Kathy Dimick Wendling 54. Walk
the streets of historic Woodstock with Wendling and youll learn
where early 20th century Broadway actor Otis Skinner lived, the inn
owned by Laurence Rockefeller, and that the first rope tow for skiing
is just outside of town at Gilberts Hill.
Wendling has earned the unofficial title of Woodstocks historian
and shares her knowledge with the many tourists who migrate to one of
the states most popular destinations. During the spring, shes
busy pointing out homesteads surrounding the town Green and recounting
their histories to visitors. Summers, she leads tours through the Woodstock
Historical Societys Dana House Museum
The pursuit of history is like doing detective work, says
Wendling, who was named Citizen of the Year by the Woodstock
Historical Society in 2000. Researching a story, a genealogy,
or fitting facts together complete the puzzle. Often her sleuthing
winds up in her weekly column, Historically Speaking, which
she has written since 1984 for The Vermont Standard, Woodstocks
Recently, Wendling took her work building Woodstocks collective
memory a step further by spearheading a drive to remove a five-panel
12 x 7 foot wallpaper replica of a painting from a private home. The
panels, which depict an early American harbor scene, were donated to
the Woodstock Historical Society. No one could identify the locale until,
by chance, Wendling found a copy of the painting in her favorite art
book. Serendipity, she says.
Painted by Frederick Catherwood in 1844, the scene shows Fort Columbus
on Governors Island in New York Harbor looking toward New York
City. The original is in the New York Public Library. Unearthing such
gems is a peak moment for a local historian.
In 1989 with Woodstock Senior Center and Windsor Central Supervisory
Union as sponsors, Wendling wrote a book, From One Room School to Union
High School. Other writing/research projects have included creating
an index to the 600-page diary (circa 1850-62) of Woodstock native Charles
Wendling, a Richmond native, showed her aptitude for writing and history
early doing articles for the Christian Science Monitor while
in high school, taking second in a state history essay contest, and
going on to study English at UVM. Her Woodstock roots go deep as well.
She waitressed summers at the Woodstock Inn where she met her future
husband, who was the inns chef. Together, the couple ran their
own inn and brought up two children.
This keeper of Woodstocks history does her part for the University
of Vermonts Class of 1954, as well. Class secretary and a committee
member for this summers 50th reunion, Wendling is generous with
her time as she helps keep green and gold memories alive.