Preservation & Wine

What could be better than a summer day of good company, beautiful scenery, local Vermont wine – all in the name of preservation!? Look no further than the Vermont Preservation & Wine tour on Friday June 27, 2014. Only 54 tickets are available, so buy them now! If you’re interested or have any questions, let me know.

Click for a larger version of the brochure.

Click for a larger version of the brochure.


Christ Church in Island Pond

As mentioned, now is the time to register for the Vermont Preservation Conference (May 2, 2014). The day before, please join us for a work day to aid in the restoration of Christ Church in Island Pond. You don’t have to be experienced, just able to follow directions and willing to help. A few photos of Christ Church in its current condition show the siding that needs to be replaced, windows repaired, and painting to be done. The interior is beautiful, and also needs some cleaning. Come join, it’ll be a preservation party!







Register for the 20th Annual Vermont Preservation Conference


Registration is open for Vermont’s 20th Annual Historic Preservation & Downtown Conference, to be held in Island Pond on Friday May 2, 2014.

Highlights of this year’s conference include (see the full program here):

  • Hands on Hammers work day at Christ Church in Island Pond on Thursday May 1. Come volunteer, lend a hand, and help us get this 1875 Gothic style church on the mend.
  • Keynote Speaker Nancy Boone, Federal Preservation Officer, HUD
  • Preservation Awards
  • Four concurrent afternoon session tracks, two of which feature 30 min “TED” style talks about historic preservation, architecture (porches, railroad depots, modern architecture, Vermont architecture), community, funding, history, folklore, and more. The other two tracks offer guided tour of the National Fish & Wildlife Refuge or Brighton State Park Mid-Century Modern Architecture.
  • Closing reception.

Hope to see you there. The presentations will be great, and the shorter tracks will allow you to learn more, hear more and not feel fidgety sitting for a 75 minute presentation. (I’ll be presenting about Vermont’s railroad depots with one of my colleagues.)

Island Pond is a unique town in the Northeast Kingdom. Come see! And pack your snow shoes. (It’ll be May in Vermont, after all. Oh wait, it could be sunny and warm. You never know!)

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) or visit

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

Days Like This

To quote Van Morrison, “Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this.” Why do I write that today? Well, some days the uphill battle of historic preservation feels incredibly steep. Sometimes it’s really hard being a preservationist in heart, soul, belief, and profession. Do you ever feel like that? Maybe you lost a preservation battle that you really believed in? Of course, every day cannot be easy and we preservationists like a challenge, but the big ones can weigh on your heart. Today an ongoing preservation issue gives me a heavy heart.

On Wednesday October 16, 2013, the brand new Wal-Mart opened a few miles outside of historic downtown St. Albans, Vermont. This particular Wal-Mart case began in the 1990s, and has come and gone a few times, fighting Vermont’s Act 250 law, among other issues. The Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) did its absolute best to work with Wal-Mart, hoping to have the store site itself downtown in a smaller scale, as opposed to miles away from the existing downtown core in farmland. See the design proposals that the Preservation Trust of Vermont had hoped to achieve. You might expect a statewide preservation organization to be opposed to Wal-Mart. However, that is not the case.  PTV is pro-downtown businesses and responsible growth and development. In other words, focus the development in appropriate areas and spaces.

Vermont is a very unique state, and a wonderful place to live for its scenery, its quality of life, its focus on the local economy, just to name a few. Part of this quality of life is a result of calculated development and land use planning laws that have protected the state from poor, sprawling development. Sprawl has been a threat and continues to be a threat to our downtowns and rural landscapes. In fact, the entire State of Vermont has been listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered Places” in 1993 and 2004, both times at risk from an onslaught of big box, sprawling development (see below).

During the 1990s Wal-Mart located three of its four Vermont stores in existing buildings and kept them relatively modest in size. Now, however, the world’s largest company is planning to saturate the state – which has only 600,000 residents – with seven new mammoth mega-stores, each with a minimum of 150,000 square feet. Theses potential new stores may be located in St. Albans, Morrisville, Newport/Derby, St. Johnsbury, Bennington, Rutland, and Middlebury. Wal-Mart’s plans are sure to attract an influx of other big-box retailers. The likely result: degradation of the Green Mountain State’s unique sense of place, economic disinvestment in historic downtowns, loss of locally-owned businesses, and an erosion of the sense of community that seems an inevitable by-product of big-box sprawl. With deep regret, the National Trust takes the rare step of re-listing Vermont as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

With all of this, why does Wal-Mart keep succeeding? Well, it has deep pockets. Obviously. And yes, people want Wal-Mart in their towns. Not all people, but many do, because they believe the prices to be cheaper (which is only selectively true) or because they don’t understand what is at risk when Wal-Mart moves in. And let’s keep in mind, that any big box store can bring up the same issues; this example just happens to be Wal-Mart.

The difficulty we preservationists face is explaining to naysayers that big box sprawl outside of downtown will have negative effects on our local economies. Sure, any store is technically geographically local shopping (as opposed to online), but that is not the true meaning of a local economy. A local economy supports itself, buys and sells good and services made and used within the region, and keep more taxes in the economy. Money spent at a big box store is money not spent at businesses owned by our neighbors. A big box store of approximately 150,000 square feet of retail space is consequently 150,000 square feet of retail space taken away from other businesses. A new store is not going to spout new consumers; roughly the same amount of people’s money will be spent shopping. So where it is spent shifts. Is it all from small businesses? No, of course not. But a good portion of it is.

It is important to remember that preservation is not anti-development or anti-progress or anti-capitalism. Preservationists are pro smart development and land use, and are pro small businesses succeeding. This can be achieved through a variety of ways, but the American typical sprawling big box developments is not the answer, especially when there are other, better options.

The current opinion regarding this new Wal-Mart is that it will bring more people to downtown. Business owners are in favor of Wal-Mart, or at least are of the opinion that since it’s there, they might as well join and encourage all sorts of business. It’s a good attitude. Hopefully the restaurants downtown survive, the small businesses continue to grow, and sprawl does not increase around the new Wal-Mart. Only time will tell.

So, preservationists, what do you think? Will a Wal-Mart located approximately 3 miles outside of a historic downtown have a negative effect on the downtown economy and local businesses? It is worth noting that there is an interstate exit located (practically) adjacent to this Wal-Mart, and customers would not have to drive thru the downtown. The St. Albans Drive-in Theater is located across the street from the new Wal-Mart. (Remember that many drive-ins failed because of the value of their land.) Also, St. Albans is a wonderful downtown with great improvement projects (most recently undergrounding utilities, streetscape improvements, building improvements, etc.). Are there examples of Wal-Mart or any similar big box store locating so-close-yet-so-far from a historic downtown and both surviving? I hope, for the sake of St. Albans, that this situation is the exception to the rule.

And that is why I have a heavy preservation heart today. Sometimes getting people to see in the long-term view and understand just how special their town or state is seems like an uphill battle. What’s your latest preservation heartache? Care to share? And what do you think about this one?

Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference

Mark your calendars. Friday June 8, 2012 is the 18th Annual Historic Preservation & Downtown Conference in Wilmington, Vermont; the theme is Resiliency.

From the conference organizers: “A year later, the 18th annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference honors the spirit of resiliency in the people and places of Vermont. We recognize community organization and altruism and explore the ingenuity of historic adaptation to help downtowns survive. We also celebrate community and heroes as we pay tribute to this year’s Preservation Award winners in Wilmington’s Memorial Hall.”

Join historic preservationists, downtown managers, community members, historians, students, professionals, grassroots organizations, guests and more for a day of interesting sessions and an afternoon of bowling and miniature golf. See the full agenda here.

This is the perfect day of interdisciplinary conversation for anyone who is interested in his/her built environment, heritage, historic places and the health of a community.

And, I’m flattered to announce that Preservation in Pink has a session at the conference. Using the Preservation in Pink themes and mission, I will be presenting historic preservation in a fun, personal manner, showing the audience how the field relates to all aspects of life. In other words, Preservation in Pink leaves the internet for day to take the stage in Wilmington. Join me for preservation conversation, coffee, tangential tales and flamingos. I’m honored to present Preservation in Pink in an off-blog format (or newsletter) for the first time. If you’ll be in Wilmington, come say hello!

The conference is extremely affordable ($35 for non-Wilmington residents) and there is a variety of options for lodging and dining. Wilmington was one of the most devastated towns (in Vermont) by Tropical Storm Irene. The community has worked hard at recovery, and your support would be much appreciated.

Click here to register.

This is the Vermont statewide conference hosted and organized by the Preservation Trust of Vermont, The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, the Vermont Downtown Program and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

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:













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.