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The Making of High Hopes Lodge

By Scott Arsenault

In October of 1999 the High Hopes Lodge won a World-Class competition in Connecticut. The Lodge was created by members of our little woodcarving organization, the Central Mass Caricature Carvers.

Since not too many people have heard of us perhaps a little history is needed. In late 1991 or early 1992 Henry Fredericks opened Wooden Fins and Feathers in Fitchburg. The business is now closed but at the time he was just getting off the ground. Most of us met Henry at the local New England Wood Carvers meeting.

In early 1992 a carver by the name of Pete LeClair started carving every Wednesday night at the shop. Before long a number of us found the shop and Pete. He started showing us all the basics of caricature carving people. In no time at all there was a good number of us meeting every Wednesday night.

We became a club in 1992 with about 30 members. We switched to Tuesday nights because there were so many of us and there was limited space at Henry's.

Since that time the carving shop closed down, not because it wasn't doing well, but because the sawdust was affecting Henry. We all owe a lot to Henry; he sold us carving equipment, gave us a place to meet, and set up a library. I don't think we would have a club if not for Henry Fredericks.

After the shop closed we moved to Leominster Elks and now we are meeting at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical high school or Monty Tech, which is located on the Fitchburg/Westminster line.

Now back to our group carving: in 1998 a group of us went to the October show in Connecticut and saw that they had a group carving competition. We discussed this at the next club meeting to see if there was any interest from the members; everyone was in favor but with the holidays coming up we decided to talk about it later.

February rolled along and the group competition was mentioned again; if we are going to compete we must come up with a theme and some ideas. We got the idea for the Lodge from the Full Moon Saloon that was carved by the Caricature Carvers of America, of which Pete LeClair is a member. We didn't want to copy the Saloon, but if everyone carved a figure or some implements we could pull this off. We figured that since the theme of the carving show was wildlife we would carve a hunting lodge.

Once we decided on a hunting lodge the ideas started to fly. It was decided that we would make the center circular and put an old tree stand under it so it would rotate. This way there wasn't a bad spot to stand when viewing the completed project.

The project all came together but not without the help of some of our retired members, who put a lot of time into assembling the scene. We are happy and proud of the end result; we have received many good responses about our project, and maybe we have inspired other groups.

Being involved in a project of this size will either make or break a carving group. We passed the test! Not once during the making of our carving did anybody argue. There were no fistfights. We discussed each new dilemma and the project fell together. Our group is a lot closer now and we appear to be more excited about carving. Will we ever attempt another group project? Probably, but on a much smaller scale.

We recommend a group project to any other groups out there. It did wonders for our group; maybe it will for yours. Keep carving!!

A Tour of High Hopes Lodge

The High Hopes Lodge on the turntable, with the adjacent yard areas

The Main Room

The Bunk room

The Kitchen

Click HERE to continue the High Hopes Lodge Tour