Saturday Morning with PTV

On Saturday September 10, a group of about 20 people gathered for a work (half) day with the Preservation Trust of Vermont in Essex, VT. The purpose was to give the Molloy-Delano house a spruce – some cosmetic improvements, you could say. This house is an important landmark for the area, and sadly located where much of the historic landscape and environment has been erased by development. From the Preservation Trust of Vermont: 

The Molloy – Delano House was built ca. 1820 at Butler’s Corners, the site of an early settlement in the Town of Essex, Vermont. The house and the adjacent brick house were built by brothers Roswell and William A Butler who, with their sons, were engaged in several enterprises in the area, primarily lumber and mercantile operations. They also built a store, which no longer stands, located between the two buildings. At the intersection of Route 15 and Old Stage Road, Butler’s Corners was an important crossroads community with roads connecting Burlington and Winooski north to St. Albans, and east towards Cambridge and Johnson. The settlement consisted of several houses, the store, a blacksmith shop, a school and a handful of farms.

The Molloy-Delano House is distinctive architecturally. It is a 1 1/2 story post and beam, wood frame building with wood plank wall construction, clapboards, and a low-pitched gable roof. An early and rare example of an arcaded, recessed front porch with five arched openings extends across the full width of the front facade.

The house, after surviving for almost 200 years, could, after rehabilitation, continue to serve the community for generations to come.

We split into groups for cleanup and painting. My friend Brennan and I started with sweeping the upstairs, bagging garbage, and removing plaster or sheetrock from the floor. We then primed over the graffiti. Others took on yard work and others painted the front porch. For the age of the house, it was surprisingly intact with original woodwork, horse-hair plaster walls, floors, door hardware; it is lovely. One of the most interesting aspects was the wall construction. Studs and sheetrock were attached to the plaster walls (likely for insulation and wiring purposes), effectively concealing three layers of wallpaper. So in areas where the gypsum walls were wallpapered, too, there were at least four layers of wallpaper to investigate. Fun!

Volunteers included current UVM HP students, alumni, community members and board members of the PTV. Our reasons were fueled by curiosity and the opportunity to have access to a neat historic, abandoned building more so than the coffee, bagels, lunch and refreshments provided. Those, of course, were appreciated. It was a beautiful morning and a fun task. Here are a few pictures from the morning:

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Interested in buying the house?

Purchase Price: The house and garage are for sale for $29,500. The property is located within the larger Essex Town Center development. The buyer will lease the land under the building from the developer and in addition to the ground lease payment, the buyer will also pay monthly common area maintenance fees.

Conditions of Sale: A façade easement on the exterior of the house will be attached to the deed. The new owner will be required to rehabilitate the house within a specified time frame.

For more information, contact the Preservation Trust of Vermont.

Two Weeks Post Irene

It has been two weeks and a few days since Tropical Storm Irene ran across Vermont, taking a path of destruction. Whether affected personally, professionally or both, in a small or large magnitude, Vermont is overwhelmed and consumed by the aftermath. For the past two weeks, I’ve thought over and over that when you see such a disaster on the news or in pictures your heart goes out to those affected; it’s tragic. However, you cannot imagine how someone feels or how it really affects you unless it happens to you – unless your town is covered in mud, dirt and dust with debris on the curb, the smell of oil in the air, people wearing masks, houses evacuated and businesses closed. It is tremendous. Working in the world of transportation, the devastation is reinforced and real beyond the bubble of one’s own town. Travel is still slow going on some roads, sights are unbelievable, and resources are in need of documentation, recovery and protection. Recovering from this natural disaster will take years for some people, businesses and for the environment.

While property and roads and belongings have been lost, there is so much good that has come of this. Needs varied across the state; some towns like Rochester and Wardsboro were shut off because of road washouts. Residents needed water and food and prescriptions filled. Others were washed out of their homes. They needed a place to stay. Some needed help cleaning. Others needed someone to talk to.  Fortunately, some people were not affected – even in towns where others were devastated – which allowed them to help the flood victims. Monday morning, immediately after the night of flooding, people were already mobilizing relief efforts. The feeling of community across the state was nothing short of heartwarming and amazing.

My town was hit particularly hard by the flood, but it was wonderful to see everyone lend a hand in time of need. During that first week after the flood, most everyone in town  worked on flood cleanup. The streets were crowded and messy, and everyone seemed to be home. And amidst the chaos, volunteers and emergency services organized. Those unaffected brought water, food, and supplies to anyone working in town. Ben & Jerry’s drove around with free ice cream cones for all. Green Mountain Coffee donated free coffee to everyone. The local grocer donated hotdogs. Community dinners were frequent and free for flood victims. The generosity and citizenship exhibited were absolutely astonishing.

Yesterday I went for a run through town for the first time in a while, and found some streets to be deserted. I ran down one street on which no house seemed to be lived in right now. The river flooded the first floors of these houses. People are still working intensely on cleanup  there. Walls have been stripped to the studs. Dumpsters line the street. The sound of generators is frequent. On a street that was always filled with kids playing outside and neighbors talking or taking a stroll, it is eerily quiet. I wonder how long until people can return to their homes. That I cannot imagine.

There isn’t much more to say beyond this: Vermont was devastated (some places and people more than others); community and generosity is strong here; recovery will take time; people will need help for a long time. What you see in the news is no exaggeration.

Life is getting back to normal for me and my house; I was lucky with only a flooded basement and not a flooded house. I aim to be posting regularly again. And I will share what I’ve learned about disasters, preparedness and cleanup (albeit, some of it the hard way). After all, I don’t have options except to learn from this, to count blessings, to evaluated what I’ve learned and to carry on so I can help others who are still in need.