Our Memorial Garden

Above, the view of the Memorial Garden from Val’s bench in May. 

The Sandisfield Arts Center Memorial Garden is on the spot where once stood the only two-story school in Sandisfield. The school, no longer used, had become derelict and was burned by the fire department (as a training exercise) in 1961.

In 2018, Sandsfield Historical Commissioner Ron Bernard had the idea of commemorating the historic space (which was on property now owned by the Sandisfield Arts Center) by building a wall using stones from the old foundation.  An interpretive historical marker was installed memorializing the history of the space.  Ron was aided in his wall building by Benjamin Luxon, and the initial cleanout by machine of the tangle of weeds, rocks, etc, was generously donated by C.W. Nelson Landscaping.

Once the space was cleared, many ideas were discussed about how to use it. When our beloved Val Coleman passed away in October 2021, his family approached the Arts Center about a memorial gift and the idea of creating the Sandisfield Memorial Garden became a reality.  A garden committee was formed consisting of Adam Manacher, Susie Crofut, Jean Atwater-Williams and Tom Christopher.  Val’s family’s gift along with several other generous donations, allowed work to begin in earnest in Spring of 2022.  Snow Farm was contracted to install a garden.  A sign was designed and purchased and Jean’s childhood friend, John Harney, again fabricated and donated a stand for the new sign, which was installed by Ben Luxon and Steve Kopiek.

The garden was opened on May 5, 2024 with an opening ceremony remembering Val with readings of his poetry by his son, Charlie Coleman, and friends Ben Luxon, Tina Sotis, and Jack Sanders. His stepdaughter Karen Lennon participated with a recorded video that included a reading of Val’s poem “Ireland” by his son-in-law Karen’s husband Jim.

Two weather-resistant benches provide a place to sit and contemplate the verdant surroundings and the layered history of this place. One bench bears a plaque with Val’s name.

Val Coleman’s bench: