1913 – 2007
During my years as Organist at the United Congregational Church, Ellen Burchard befriended Steve and I in the Church Choir, welcoming us and making sure we felt like part of the group. Ellen’s career as a NYC actress and producer was well known in town. She married John Burchard and they owned Old Acre at the corner of Meetinghouse Lane and West Main Rd. Years before we moved to town, Ellen transformed the huge horse barn at Old Acre into a Theatre Barn, offering shows to the local towns! She had connections with actors in NYC and would bring in actors of distinction, and of course she was in the show as well! No one ever knew Ellen’s precise age; it was her guarded secret. But you could count on Ellen to dress and sing as only a professional actress could.
She wrote a play for the town’s 250th celebration, in which a plethora of the areas early settlers including Benjamin Church played by Ellen’s husband John who was a direct descendant, and Queen Awashonks, played by myself, performed in the United Congregational Church amidst other “early settlers”. Steve and I had the pleasure of accompanying her one summer at the United Congregational Church, when she sang a special song composed by J. William Middendorf. Ellen sang this lovely song with a small amount of dramatic interpretation, as Steve accompanied on his flute and I on the piano.
When we bought our home 31 years ago, Ellen gave us a trunk load of forsythia from Old Acre, which we dug ourselves and planted in our yard. Today, they bloom still, and remind us of Ellen’s charming smile, thoughtfulness, and friendship.
An Excerpt from Claire Johnson‘s History Through Women She Has Known
April 22, 2020