About Stone Soup Institute
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The idea for Stone Soup Institute was the result of a conversation. In July of 2000 Rolf Hammacher, Klaus Fessler, and Jim Cornish were enjoying each other's company over cocktails at Rolf's summer home. Klaus, a furniture maker and restorer of Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture who has a group of apprentices at his shops in Berlin and Paris, wanted to know whether there was a school in the U.S. that he could recommend to his students. A school where they could learn how to select trees to use for purposes such as furniture, house framing and sheathing, and for construction of barns and outbuildings. A school where draft horses were the motive power in the logging operation and utilized as well for small farming operations. Knowing of no school that comprehensive, Jim suggested that he might be willing to take on one or two apprentices to help in his commercial logging operation. Rolf offered his land as a resource to enable the realization of a larger project. This was the genesis of the idea for the foundation of a school.
Two days later, the topic came up in conversation between Jim and Sarah Stone. Sarah thought that the idea of a farming school was excellent. She and her husband David Giansiracusa had recently purchased a farmhouse, barn and eight acres of land where she spent quite a bit of time convalescing after treatment for ovarian cancer. That this farm was only a mile from Rolf's home seemed to fit nicely in the picture that was taking shape. Sarah volunteered to be the administrative director for the organization as she had some free time and was so excited about the project. She was raised on a farm in Minnesota and worked at her father's grain elevators. She studied to be a medical doctor and became an administrator at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
So within a span of three days a core group of people with a dream began to lay the foundation for what would become the Stone Soup Institute.
Sadly, Sarah's confrontation with cancer ended in February of 2001. In April of that year Stone Soup was fortunate to recruit Peg Newberg, a retired junior high school history teacher as our new adminstrative director.
In early May of 2001 papers for our Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Maine and on May 22, 2001 we legally became Stone Soup Institute. Over the next eleven months we continued to work on the paper foundation for the school which culminated in the application to the Internal Revenue Service for 501D3 non-profit tax exempt status, which was granted on February 4, 2003.
Our curriculum has grown to include fibers and textiles, and our teaching staff has grown by two part-time and two seasonal instructors. We look forward to expanding our course offerings to include blacksmithing, pottery, masonry, and boat building in the years to come.
Sarah Stone on the farm, Summer 2000