The Associated Press

RUTLAND — This city is honoring a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous with a work added to its sculpture trail.

Sculptor Steve Shaheen tells the Rutland Herald he and his collaborators chose to combine a portrait of Bill Wilson in the front with an open hand in the back so that the piece was both functional and something the public could understand. It’s the sixth creation added to the Rutland Sculpture Trail.

Wilson was born in Dorset and spent his early childhood in Rutland, writing later in his autobiography that this was when he developed his “willpower and distinction.”

He wrote that the basis for the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps came from his four hospitalizations for alcoholism and introduction to the Oxford Group, a religious organization.

Roots in East Dorset

As detailed in a May 5, 2018 article in the Banner and Manchester Journal, thousands of people visit Wilson’s birthplace in East Dorset each year. Wilson was born in the house in 1895 behind what would ironically become the hotel bar, and returned to his hometown frequently until his death in 1971. It is a registered national historic site. People visit the landmark each year to honor Wilson’s memory and participate in seminars and meetings on recovery. More than 50 educational programs take place at the house annually, as well as events and programming for the larger Dorset community.

After spending his early childhood in Rutland, Wilson lived at the Grifith House across the churchyard from his birthplace from age 11 until he joined the Army.

According to its website, “the hotel was reopened in 1988 under the historic name of the Wilson House. A non-profit foundation has been created to own the property, and volunteers serve to operate the hotel. Reflecting the guiding philosophy of the hotel’s management, A.A. and related meetings are held regularly in the former barn that has been adapted to meeting and lounge space.”

Material from the Manchester Journal was used in this story.


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