In 1963 Chet Card of Everett, MA and Gene Matheson of Ipswich, MA were invited to exhibit woodcarvings on April 15, 1964 at the Houghton Library in Lynn Massachusetts. A notice was placed in Chip Chats extending the invitation to members of the National Wood Carver Association. Several members of this Association who resided in the Eastern part of New England responded to the invitation. This group became known as the New England Chapter of the National Wood Carver Association. The group began to meet informally at the Legion Hall in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There were no regular officers at the time. Gene Matheson served as the Secretary/Treasurer and Chet Card conducted the meetings.
Becoming a Club
Soon the organization began to outgrow the Ipswich facility and moved to St. Agnes' Parish Hall in Reading MA. A Steering Committee was formed followed by establishing a formal name for the group and dues were charged. In 1965 the group became known as the New England Wood Carvers Association. This was the first known woodcarving club in New England. When the club became too large to run on an informal basis Chet Card was elected the first President in 1970.
As the membership continued to grow, due in part to successful exhibits at Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts, the meeting place was moved to the Hancock United Church of Christ Hall in Lexington, MA in April 1972. When Henry Krueger was elected President for the 1971-72 year he appointed Claire Antill to start work on the constitution and by-laws. The following year Claire Antill became President. She continued with developing the by-laws and started the task of getting the club incorporated. In 1973 the first election of officers was held under the new by-laws. For the 1973-74 year Rip Stangroom was elected President. During his second term he was instrumental in moving the club to the Legion Hall in Bedford, Massachusetts. This took place in February 1983.
In February 2000, thanks to the work of Fran Mchugh, Paul Ward, Joe Olson, and others the New England Woodcarvers Association moved to Middlesex Community College in Bedford, Massachusetts. The mission of this organization continues to be the same. To promote and encourage woodcarving, wood sculpture, and whittling as art forms and to stimulate and educate the community in these art forms. This mission is being done through instruction, exhibitions, and displays both private and public.
The organization has entered the 21st Century with well over 600 members. Since it's beginning nearly 41 years ago the New England carving landscape has changed dramatically. More carving groups have formed providing a plethora of wood carving activities and many of the members of New England Woodcarvers have become nationally known for their carving abilities. NEWC as it is known remains the largest organization in New England. As our journey continues, we need to insure that we're headed in the right direction by seeking a vision of excellence that makes a real contribution to the members it serves and recommitting ourselves to strengthening the communities awareness of all facets of wood art.
This Chronicle was made possible by the generosity of Rip Stangroom.