A Historic Bakery in Barre

Cold temperatures. Snowy weather. Ice. What complements these weather ailments better than a cup of coffee and warm fresh pastry from a locally owned bakery in a historic building? How about this one in Barre, VT near the Socialist Labor Party Hall?

A snow covered historic bakery in Barre, VT.

A snow covered historic bakery in Barre, VT. Photo courtesy of Fran Gubler.

Okay, so this bakery is not in operation, but it has an interesting history and much potential. It’s the subject of a UVM HP graduate student project this semester. Current student Fran Gubler shared the photos and historical information. Consider it another heart-bomb-worthy building.

Built in 1912-13, the bakery acted as an extension of the Union Co-Operative Store that was contained within the basement of the Socialist Labor Party Hall. Italian immigrants in the Granite Street neighborhood who worked in the granite quarries used the Labor Hall (and the bakery) as a meeting place where they had a lot of important discussions concerning the labor movement in the US in the early 20th century.

The bakery represented a structure that was created to meet the increasing demand for Italian breads and other baked goods in the neighborhood but also served as an indicator of the Italian community’s resiliency during that time in Barre. The bakery is a symbol of how the immigrant population supported themselves economically during a very difficult time. They actually produced their own currency with the arm and hammer label on it that was used to brand the baked goods!

The historic bakery in Barre, VT.

The historic bakery in Barre, VT.

If you haven’t come across Fran’s blog, Fran Over Medium Heat, you should read it. Fran’s writing combines personal essays with her love of baking in beautiful style, and she includes recipes at the end of every post. Whether about life, school, relationships or little things, I’m always able to relate. The way Fran explains it, life and cooking/baking are symbiotic. (It’s one of my favorite reads.)

Any takers on the historic bakery?

Battling Poor Lighting Choices

Look up. What type of lights do you see? If you are sitting in an office, it’s most likely florescent bulbs. Florescent might as well be called the most annoying, least flattering light source out there, right? Unfortunately most office buildings and large commercial buildings have standard issue drop ceiling and florescent bulbs.

Now consider a historic building, one that currently operates as a coffee shop or a small store. You are more likely to find softer bulbs and more aesthetically pleasing light fixtures. Smaller spaces are financially easier than massive office buildings and stores. What would these places look like if there were large rectangular (or square) florescent boxes of light clinging to the ceiling?


Note the small fixtures in this historic store (Pierce’s Store in Shrewsbury, VT).

A beautiful medallion and historic light fixture that make a statement.

A beautiful medallion and historic light fixture that make a statement. The track lighting surrounding this could be more chosen more wisely but are small enough to not detract from the center light fixture, and can be controlled independently.

Many times I find myself in a historic building where the ceilings have been dropped and cheap (not necessarily meaning inexpensive) fixtures have been added. Not only does it change the scale of the room, but it detracts from my enjoyment of the setting.

All of this is to get you thinking about the impacts of lighting. Lighting is a critically important, often overlooked detail of buildings. The next time you enter a building, look around. What type of lighting is it? Do you feel at ease in this space? Or not? Perhaps the lights are too bright, too low, or do not match with the setting. 

And what about home, where you should feel the most comfortable because you control your lighting (unless you’re a renter and stuck with what the landlord gives you). What is your lighting in your house? Have you switched to CFL bulbs or LEDs? A confession: I cannot fully come around to CFLs because I do not like how they glow, unless I have the perfect lampshade to conceal the glare. Any suggestions?

Observe, look around, and let me know. Find some good example and bad examples, and let’s resume this conversation. 

Good lighting choices in Winooski, VT.

Good lighting choices in Winooski, VT.

Vermont Preservation Awards 2014

The 2014 Vermont Historic Preservation & Downtown Conference will be held on Friday May 2 in Island Pond. Part of the conference includes the Preservation Awards. Know of a good preservation project in Vermont? Now is the chance to highlight it. Read on for more information from the Preservation Trust of Vermont. 


Burlington, February 12, 2014 — The Preservation Trust of Vermont is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Preservation Awards.

Since 1982, The Preservation Trust of Vermont has recognized outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation. Awards are presented to the individuals and organizations that have made special contributions in preserving Vermont’s historic architecture. Examples include the preservation or adaptive use of an historic property; educational and public information materials and programs; building trades and professional training; programming at historic properties; financial support; and special encouragement and leadership in the preservation field.

Nomination materials can be found on the Trust’s website [click here]. The deadline for submissions is March 4. Awards will be presented at the Preservation Trust of Vermont’s annual conference on May 2, 2014 in Island Pond, Vermont.

Award winners from 2013 and 2012 include: The Vermont Agency of Transportation for the Checkered House Bridge Project; Housing Vermont and Springfield Housing Unlimited for The Ellis Block, Springfield, Vermont; Larry & Lise Hamel for The Hardwick Inn, Hardwick, Vermont; the Town of Bristol for Holley Hall, Bristol, VT; the Putney Historical Society, Lyssa Papazian, Jeff Shumlin and Ming Chou for the Putney General Store Project; Birgit Deeds of Shelburne Farms, Patricia O’Donnell of Heritage Landscapes and Doug Porter of Porter and Associates for the Shelburne Farms Formal Garden Restoration Project; the Town Hall Theater, Inc. for the Town Hall Theater, Middlebury, VT; David Clem for the Wilder Center, Wilder, VT; Mimi Baird of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Plymouth Notch, VT; and the Friends of the Valley Foundation, the Wilmington Vermont Fund, FloodStock, the Deerfield Valley Rotary, Wilmington Vermont Flood Relief Fund, and Lisa Sullivan and Philip Taylor of Bartelby’s Books, Wilmington, VT.

The Preservation Trust of Vermont is a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to assist communities and individuals in the ongoing effort to preserve and use Vermont’s rich collection of historic and architectural resources.

For more information, please contact Paul Bruhn, Executive Director, Preservation Trust of Vermont, 104 Church Street, Burlington, VT  05401, (802) 658-6647Paul@ptvermont.org or visit www.ptvermont.org.

Here is a video of the Shelburne Farms Formal Garden Restoration – a 2012 award recipient.

Places I’d Like to Visit: Washington D.C.

Fitting for Presidents’ Day, it’s a good day to mention how much I’d love to visit Washington D.C. Many preservationists are fortunate to live and work there, and thanks to social media, the rest of us can catch glimpses of life in and around D.C.

From the monuments to the free museums to the rich architecture and significant history, Washington D.C. is a must visit for all. It’s been almost 20 years since I spent time in D.C., so it’s verging on not counting anymore, and really beyond my recollection of places. Here are places in D.C. in my list, three or less in each category to keep it reasonable. How long would these take me to see? Please add your own, too.

The National Building Museum was formerly the U.S. Pension Office. Click for source.

The National Building Museum was formerly the U.S. Pension Office. Click for source. This is the museum on the top of my list.



Preservationists I’d Like to Visit

Have you seen the U.S. Interior photos? This recent one of the Lincoln Memorial is beautiful.

But beyond that, I don’t know much of D.C. Where are the best places to live? Where are the best places to visit? To eat? This is a pretty standard list, probably, but it’s my starting point. What about you, fellow travelers? Let’s talk road trips and adventures!Which places do you know you’d like to visit, despite not knowing exactly what you’d do when you got there?

Preservation is…

Preservation is Sexy. Yes, you read it here. Actually, Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists proclaimed it first during her TED talk. You go girl!

Photo courtesy of Bernice Radle.

Photo courtesy of Bernice Radle.

What does it mean? It’s exciting. It’s enticing. It’s smart. It’s forward-thinking. It’s loving. It’s caring. It’s sensitive. It’s beautiful. Preservation is the best. It’s everything, and cares about everyone and the built environment. Share your love of preservation. What would you say?

Preservation Heart Bombs in Vermont

Happy Valentine’s Day! Preservation Heart Bombs (yes, it’s a thing) began in Buffalo, NY by Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, particularly Bernice Radle and Jason Wilson. Basically they plaster endangered or neglected buildings with heart paper cutouts decked out with pro-preservation messages. This was such a cool idea that the National Trust and Design Sponge covered the Heart Bombs story. And now it’s spread across the country! (For the follow-up to that, stayed tuned to the Preservation Nation blog.) Many of these heart bombs occur in larger cities that are down on their luck, but definitely on the upswing thanks to dedicated preservationists. Such a turn of events is easy to spot in big cities like Buffalo, NY.

Buffalo heart bombs. Photo courtesy of Bernice Radle.

Buffalo heart bombs. Photo courtesy of Bernice Radle.

Without being able to join in physical heart bombs this year in Vermont, I offer you a few digital heart bombs. These are buildings that could sure use some love and affection, from paint to rehabilitation to an owner who has the ability to transform it! Sometimes owners love their buildings, but simply cannot afford it or decide what to do. We all understand the feeling of being trapped, so it’s not fair to blame the owner. Instead we need to offer support when appropriate. Ideas! Financing! Advice! And of course, listening. That might be the greatest help. Hearing the issues, the history, the concerns, the struggles — that is important, too.

Vermont is full of its buildings that need help. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s less noticeable than say, an entire block in a big city. Here are only a few buildings – some favorites – that are examples of buildings in need of love.

Fair Haven Depot in Fair Haven, VT. An Abandoned Vermont subject. This building is in need of rehabilitation and a plan for use again. It was formerly an Amtrak station.

Fair Haven Depot in Fair Haven, VT. An Abandoned Vermont subject. This building is in need of rehabilitation and a plan for use again. It was formerly an Amtrak station.

Hyde Manor in Sudbury, VT.

Hyde Manor in Sudbury, VT.

A schoolhouse in Roxbury, VT. Photo courtesy of Brennan Gauthier.

A schoolhouse in Roxbury, VT. Photo courtesy of Brennan Gauthier.

Do you have buildings in need of some love? Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I love you all. Sending preservation love to you and yours.