From Jacquelyn Burgin (December 2015):
Over three and a half years ago, my daughter Ericka and I visited former President Ron Liebowitz and Vice President Mike Schoenfeld to launch the idea of building a cabin in Ian’s memory. We had learned about the recent demolition of Worth Mountain Lodge, a place that meant a great deal to Ian during his time at Middlebury College.
We were looking for a meaningful use for the Ian Burgin Memorial Fund that had been established after Ian’s death, one that would honor his passions for the environment, architecture, woodworking, as well as his many connections with the natural world through his writing, hiking, skiing, camping, and other activities. Middlebury College also added another connection because Ian felt privileged to experience the education he received and he felt honored to have made so many close friends during his time there.
Both Ron and Mike loved the idea, and this soon became a student-led project.
This cabin, to be located at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Campus, reflects much of what Ian cherished. It embodies the time Ian treasured while at Middlebury. It also provides current and future students the same opportunities that Ian enjoyed at the Worth Mountain Lodge: a place of refuge from the busy academic pace; a place to learn about and appreciate the beauty of the surrounding landscape; a place for writers to draw inspiration, especially with its close proximity to the Robert Frost Cabin; a destination for hikers or skiers; and a place to commune with friends.
One of Ian’s endearing qualities was his enthusiasm for teaching others the skills he had acquired. It is fun to see how this project that bears Ian’s name has continued that legacy. It has provided students with opportunities to learn about project development, site acquisition, the design process, the review process, obtaining approvals, and fund-raising. And students will have the opportunity to participate in the actual construction, before it is turned over to members of the Mountain Club to manage.
Development of this project has been a long time coming. Many of you have heard some of our excitement about the project, or perhaps some of the trials and tribulations. Many of you have already offered your support through generous, yet unsolicited, contributions. But I promised to let you all know when we were ready with approved site and plans, so everyone would have the chance to participate.
I’m thrilled to announce that this is it!
SAS Architects in Burlington, Vermont has donated a beautiful set of plans and construction documents for the cabin. The cost, recently estimated by a contractor stands at $90,000. We already have $72,000 in hand (from grants, the memorial fund, and very generous gifts!). We are now turning to you, our friends, families, and the wider Middlebury community, for assistance with funding the final portion. If we can raise $18,000 by the end of January, construction will begin in the spring! All permits are in place and we are ready to proceed.
Our lives were enriched by our connections with Ian. Recently, I learned that Ian was the last member of the Middlebury Mountain Club to hold the title of Keeper of Cabins and Trails. With the completion of this project, that position will be reinstituted at the Mountain Club, and together, we will all become the keepers of Ian’s memory.
Heaps of Gratitude!
On behalf of my daughter, Ericka, and our dear friend, Audrey Nelson ’08, I sincerely thank the team of Middlebury students, Jack, Phoebe, Larson, Sarah, and Joseph, for their commitment, perseverance and phenomenal work on this project. Not one of these students knew Ian personally, yet the first time I met them they explained their interest in the project, and each one noted something about Ian’s life that they connected with personally. When this cabin is constructed, they will forever be connected to Ian’s life and legacy with this cabin that many future Middlebury students and the wider Middlebury community will enjoy.
Many thanks also go out to the Middlebury Mountain Club and members, Phillip Picotte ’08 and Carey Favaloro ‘14, for their early involvement in getting this project started and to our dear friend, Gus Goodwin ’08, for his assistance with site assessment and his continued and steadfast involvement.
Finally, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to Steve Smith and staff at SAS Architects of Burlington, Vermont, for the beautiful cabin design and plans. Middlebury College’s Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest was Vermont’s first LEED Platinum certified building and was designed by SAS Architects. Audrey reminded me how this building was one of Ian’s favorite places to be on campus and how he spent many hours writing his senior thesis there. How fitting that the designers of a building Ian so admired are the same architects of the cabin that will now honor Ian.