BEDFORD, NY (CBSNewYork) – “I was drinking in the kitchen. I have now become a lone drinker,” said Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. His voice still echoes at Stepping Stones, the rustic country home in Bedford he shared with his loving wife Lois.
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story
“For AA members and Al-Anon members, it’s a touchstone. It’s a little bit of a pilgrimage,” says Stepping Stones Executive Director Anna Perch.
She says Wilson started AA before moving there in 1941, but this house was the home of the movement.
“AA started before they were here, but all of the nurturing that Bill did that has made AA so strong and unshakable happened here. And also Al-Anon started here,” she said. Al-Anon is an organization that exists to help families and friends of alcoholics.
Now there is hope that Stepping Stones will be named a national historic landmark.
“There were times when Bill said it was like Grand Central Station – just filled with drunks who needed help, and always, while Bill was alive, there was people in these guest bedrooms who needed help sobering up or starting their lives over, needed to stop here,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “They had a open door policy and they found that if Bill didn’t go into the city to nurture AA, AA members and AA came here.”
Visiting Stepping Stones can be emotional for those who have followed the 12 steps.
“A lot of the time, it’s more moving than they expect it to be. It’s really touching. We joke that it’s not a successful tour unless someone cries,” she said.
In the kitchen, she said, “Bill Wilson said that this was the very table where he and his friend Ebby sat in 1934 in Brooklyn and had that fateful discussion which eventually led to Bill having his last drink… It’s the one place left in the house that we allow people to sit. We allow them to have their picture taken, and sometimes people want to unload their story of recovery or their own story of hope… They’ve been known to cry.”
LINK: Stepping Stones
Some residents fear that designating Stepping Stones as a national historic landmark will attract more traffic and congestion.
Perch promises they’ll be considerate and good neighbors.
It’s hoped landmark status will help preservation efforts. There are 200,000 documents in the archive, many love letters that tell a common story about an alcoholic and the woman who loved him.
“The most wonderful thing about Bill and Lois and their lives is not that they were heroes or that they were gods or that they were anything other than a stereotypical alcoholic and a stereotypical loved one of an alcoholic who suffered from this illness and found hope for recovery,” said Perch.
A decision on the landmark status could come this spring.
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