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?

Vermont Downtown & Historic Preservation Conference

It’s a busy week in preservation and for PiP adventures! Following the SIA conference, it’s time to head to another one, only this is much closer to home.

Tomorrow, Friday June 7, 2013, is the annual Vermont Downtown & Historic Preservation conference, to be held this year in Barre, Vermont. It’s not too late to register – do so online or at the morning registration. Come join us in Vermont for local history, master planning, discussions as to why downtowns are important, good keynote speakers & presenters, inspiring preservation awards, and much more! See the full program here.

This is a good place for all preservationists to meet others, to network and to learn! Students are encouraged to come. If you’re in central Vermont and heading to the conference, let me know. Hope to see you there. VT_DCHP_Program_2013_final
Last year’s HP Conference in Wilmington and the 2011 HP Conference in Poultney with write-ups here and here.

Abandoned Vermont: Barre House

Abandoned for what looks like decades, this house is long gone, looking even worse on the interior than it does on the exterior. The interior, sadly, has been destroyed, missing floors, walls, joists, everything. But this house remains a story sitting on the sunny hillside down a dirt road. At one point, people lived here and loved this house.

An Italianate style house.

An Italianate style house.

The frame of an outbuilding remains.

The frame of an outbuilding remains.

Closer view. You can see the windows were once boarded up, but now have mostly been removed.

Closer view. You can see the windows were once boarded up, but now have mostly been removed.

A small porch.

A small porch. Note how the coat of paint stops above the porch nearest the eaves, as though no one could reach there.

Some paint here, some paint there.

Some paint here, some paint there. And the glass is no more in most of the windows.

Completely open.

Weathered and partially painted.

Aside from being completely destroyed on the inside, the exterior clapboard has been removed in places.

Aside from being completely destroyed on the inside, the exterior clapboard has been removed in places.

And that is one reason why we document: to remember, to see the potential, to hope we can prevent this from happening to other abandoned or neglected homes.

SIA Vermont Tour: Part Two

A recap of the Saturday tour of the Society for Industrial Archaeology’s Vermont 2010 Fall Tour. Read Part One.

To recap, the day began bright and early (well, more like dreary and foggy, but the sun soon appeared) with visits to the Green Mountain Power Plant No. 19, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Farms, and a jaunt over to Magic Hat Brewery. Those stops comprised the Burlington/Shelburne portion of our day, and then we were Montpelier bound once more.

On the return trip along I-89, we turned off at exit 11 towards Richmond to visit the East Monitor Barn, sister to the restored/reconstructed West Monitor Barn. Thanks to our wonderful tour organizer, Seth, we were able to stop for a while, walk in and around the barn to explore and gaze at the construction, take pictures, and enjoy the gorgeous Saturday afternoon. For me, it was the highlight of the trip. On how many tours do you get to just traipse [gently] through a historic barn? We had to bushwhack a bit to get to the rear of the barn, which made it all the more fun.

 

The East Monitor Barn in Richmond, VT.

 

 

The interior of the main floor of the East Monitor Barn.

 

 

The ground level of the barn, a former dairy stable.

 

 

The East Monitor Barn -- check out the ghost lines.

 

 

Looking up the monitor.

 

After we’d been entertained by our barn explorations, the bus headed back to Montpelier. Later that evening we all gathered at the Socialist Labor Party Hall in Barre, VT for a banquet and lecture. The hall is a National Historic Landmark, built by the Italian immigrants of Barre. The building is fascinating and undergoing restoration work (donations appreciated!). While the dinner was in the main hall, we had the opportunity to stroll through other spaces of the buildings on the first floor and in the basement.

 

Old Labor Hall in Barre, VT.

 

 

The Labor Hall in the evening.

 

{Sorry for the blurry Labor Hall photos!} The lecture was given by Ilaria Brancoli Busdraghi of Middlebury College. She gave a wonderful talk about the immigration of Italian granite workers to Barre.

Additionally, dinner was fabulous, catered by JDC’s Just Delicious Catering, which is a part of the Vermont Fresh Network. As an added bonus, the coffee served was my absolute favorite: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast. And the company of fellow SIA members was terrific. Everyone is extremely welcoming, friendly, and knowledgeable. Seriously, these industrial archaeologists have an overwhelming amount of knowledge. There is always an interesting conversation, no matter which direction you turn.

Credit for this amazing day of tour is due to Seth DePasqual, the organizer of the event and fellow SIA member. He planned the tour from all the way from Michigan! Great job, Seth. I only wish I would have more time than just Saturday. Maybe next time.

Young professionals and students, you should really think about joining! The SIA rocks!