Fascinating Factoids from the book Arlo, Alice and Anglicans

The building that is now known as The Guthrie Center was formerly the Trinity Church. It was an Episcopal church with high mass. At its most active, extra chairs had to be brought in to seat all the parishioners.

Captain Isaac Van Deusen, who gave his name to the village where the church is located (Van Deusenville) was instrumental in founding the church.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Trinity Church never burned to the ground. It simply outgrew the small stone church that had been built on the site in 1830 and it was torn down to make room for a larger wooden church.

The church has two corner stones. One from the old stone church and another for the new wooden structure.

The current building was modeled after the old St. Paul's Church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. (Not the current version of St. Paul's) It was designed by Richard Upjohn who was more famous for designing Trinity Church on Wall Street.

In the 1930s the church was brown.

The church originally had a steeple. It was taken down in 1955 because it was rotting.

The last full-time minister of Trinity was named Howard Murray Dumbell II

The first offer to buy the former Trinity Church came from a farmer who wanted to use it as a hog barn. Reverend Dr. Pierce Middleton, who was the rector of St. James Church in Great Barrington and in charge of the property turned him down.

Alice Brock's family used to stop at the church on vacations when she was a girl.

Alice's mother bought the church for Alice and her husband Ray for $2,000. At the time it had little electricity, no plumbing and no bedrooms.

Reverend Cannon S. S. Whitman has only performed one deconsecration ceremony in his life- that of the Trinity Church. The text of the ceremony that is spoken in the movie Alice's Restaurant is accurate. It is prescribed by the Book of Offices, but Reverend Pierce Middleton appears in the film.

St. James, Trinity's parent church, made plans to remove two memorial tablets in the sanctuary but they apparently forgot. The tablets are still there. They honor John Coffing, who donated most of the money to build the church and Eveline Burgert who was a beloved and highly active member of the congregation.

Alice's Restaurant was called The Back Room Rest.

"Officer Obie" of the song Alice's Restaurant was William Obanhein. He was known as "Bill" to his friends, but before Arlo Guthrie's song no one called him "Obie." He twice posed for the famous Stockbridge artist Norman Rockwell. He appeared in advertisements for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and for Goodwill Industries.

There really was a blind judge. Judge James E. Hannon and his seeing eye dog Susie both played themselves in the movie.

The historical room of the Stockbridge Library has the littering photos. They are not in color.

The $25 fine for littering was relatively hefty. Average moving violations commanded fines of about $10.

Alice's Restaurant, the movie, was director Arthur Penn's first film after the highly successful Bonnie and Clyde. His next film after Alice was Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman.

The real Alice and Ray Brock appear as extras in the film. How to spot the real Alice. In the scene where "Ray" is putting up insulation she is wearing a brown turtle neck and her hair in a pony tail. In the Thanksgiving scene she wears a bright pink satin blouse. In the party scene she is wearing a western style dress.

Arlo's costume in the party scene is meant to be the King of Cups from a pack of tarot cards.

Tina Chen, who played Arlo's on-screen girlfriend, wore an authentic Chinese dress that had belonged to her grandmother. When they wrapped up the shoot, the film crew put the dress in storage. She never got it back.

In case you didn't know, Arlo Guthrie's real-life wife, the former Jackie Hyde, is not Asian.

Shelly Plimpton, who played the 15 year old groupie in the movie, was actually 20 years old at the time.

Notes for nitpickers: During the deconsecration scene in the movie, take a close look at the ceiling of the sanctuary. Stage lights are clearly visible. Also, keep an eye on the leaves. The movie was filmed over a 10 week period beginning in October. The scenes in the church were some of the earliest. If the Thanksgiving scene had really been shot around Thanksgiving, there would be few leaves left on the trees. Instead they are at their peak colors. Because the scenes were shot out of sequence, you can watch the leaves fall and re-appear if you pay attention.

The couple who eventually sold the church to Arlo had never heard the song Alice's Restaurant when they decided to buy the property. They went to look at it on Thanksgiving day because that was when they had vacation. They had no idea there was any significance to that until later.

Ma's Hanuman Ghar, the new name of the sanctuary, translates to Ma's House of Hanuman. Hanuman is a Hindu monkey god of service also known as the Son of the Wind.

The Guthrie Center now has more members than the building ever had as a church. Many of the members, however, hail from remote states and countries and have never stepped foot in the building.

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