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Join us on Friday, June 8th in Bristol, VT for the Annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference.

Registration: 8 am – 9:00 am

Opening Plenary: 9 am – 11:15 am

The opening plenary will be held at Holley Hall and will feature keynote speaker Dar Williams, a touring musician and author whose recent book “What I Found in a Thousand Towns” discusses what she calls Positive Proximity or the social capital-building that allows towns to become unique, prosperous and self-reliant. Williams muses on why some towns flourish while others fail, examining elements from the significance of history and nature to the uniting power of public spaces and food. Drawing on her own travels and the work of urban theorists, Williams offers real solutions to rebuild declining communities. (The keynote is approved for .75 AICP CM credits.)

Following the keynote will be the biennial presentation of Preservation Awards, which honor individuals and organizations who have done exemplary work in their communities.

Lunch: 11:15 am – 12:45 pm

Explore Bristol’s Main Street shops, historical society, art galleries, and restaurants for lunch! There will also be a brown bag meet-up of the Creative Network.

Lightning Talks: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

  • Village Greens Matter by Richard Amore
  • Pop-ups to Permanency by Lylee Rauch-Kacenski
  • Trails to Towns by Tim Tierney
  • Creative Connections: Arts on Main Street, Michele Bailey
  • Time to Adapt: Reusing our Built Environment by Tom Wells
  • Decoding Designations by Caitlin Corkins

Field Sessions: 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

Village Greens
Discover the important role public spaces and village greens play in keeping Vermont’s downtowns and villages strong and learn what communities are doing to make them better. Learn about the historic, environmental, and cultural role village greens play in Vermont and take a walking tour to see how Bristol has revitalized its green to improve residents’ quality of life and the vibrancy of Main Street.

Trails to Towns – Coffin Factory Historical Walking Trail
The Coffin Factory Historical Walking Trail is a segment of the Bristol Trail Network, recently formed to create and maintain trails to highlight natural, historical, and cultural resources and to promote recreation and economic development. This session will include a guided walk of the site with information from the Bristol Historical Society, and also a presentation from the Bristol Trail Network about developing trails as a way to integrate community spirit, economic development, recreation, and access to local resources.

Pop-ups to Permanency
Learn how to activate commercial real estate and explore new retail opportunities with Pop-up shops. This session explores how Pop-ups can both be used as a stand alone model to provide goods and services on a limited basis and how the Pop-up can lead to more permanent vibrancy through investment in downtowns.

Field Sessions: 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm

Time to Adapt: Repurposing Bristol’s Architectural Resources
Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. Adaptive reuse is seen by many as a key factor in land conservation and the reduction of urban sprawl. In this session, you will learn from a variety of people who have redeveloped Bristol properties, including transforming an abandoned high school into professional offices and a commercial gym, the redevelopment of a former industrial park as a center of health and wellness, the adaptive reuse of three historic houses for a community center and multifamily housing, the conversion of an historic firestation into artist work/live space and the development of a nano brewery in a former carriage barn.

Decoding Designations: Funding for Community Revitalization
What are the tools and incentives available in Vermont that encourage downtown development? Join Caitlin Corkins from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation to learn about the various designations that provide incentives. In this session we’ll demystify the various federal, state and local designations and how you can use them to access funding for community revitalization efforts. In the field, we’ll explore successful projects in Bristol first-hand and discuss other tools available for upcoming projects that you can apply in your community.

The Creative Connection – Arts on Main Street
The arts and creativity play an important role in community economic development but they also impact the social and emotional connections that people have to place. By enlivening downtown spaces with arts businesses and activities, visitors and residents can be engaged in a deeper way, making a place more attractive to potential residents, businesses, students and other artists.  In this session we’ll meet with local artists to learn how their creative businesses contribute to the vibrancy of downtown Bristol.

(Each field session is approved for 1.25 AICP CM credits.)

Closing Reception: 5 pm – 6 pm 

In addition to the conference field sessions there will be ample time to network including a reception immediately following the conference.

The registration link is NOT mobile friendly. Please register from a computer.

“What I Found in a Thousand Towns is more than a love letter to America’s small towns, it’s a deeply personal and hopeful message about the potential of America’s lively and resilient communities…”  More here…

Conference Sponsors

Arnold and Scangas Architects specializes in historic restoration and rehabilitation of underutilized historic buildings. Bringing old buildings back to life, especially in Vermont’s Downtowns and making them again a contributing member to the community is what we enjoy most. Our designs provide clients and the community with new opportunities for their existing buildings. We believe architecture is the art of listening to our clients and creating design solutions that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA) supports a mission to improve and promote the standards and quality of planning at all levels in the States of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, to encourage the free exchange of ideas among planners in Northern New England, and to facilitate the participation of members in the activities of the American Planning Association.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is responsible for planning, development, implementation and maintenance of a variety of transportation infrastructure. This includes roads, bridges, state-owned railroads, airports, park and ride facilities, bicycle facilities, pedestrian paths, public transportation facilities and services.

Accessibility Systems, Inc. is locally owned and specializes in the sales, service and installation of accessibility equipment for people who are physically challenged. Having provided lift installations since 1980, they are one of the most experienced accessibility specialty contractors in the country. Accessibility Systems provide lift and elevator installations for all types of commercial and public buildings, and have worked on many historic properties. free on-site evaluations, design service, and code consultation to architects, contractors and homeowners available, always without obligation.

This conference is financed in part with a Certified Local Government grant from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Information and opinions presented at this conference do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

National Park ServiceThis conference is financed in part with a Certified Local Government grant from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Information and opinions presented at this conference do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

Additional conference sponsorsAARP, First Baptist Church of Bristol, Marble Valley Engineering, PC, National Bank of Middlebury, Reed Prescott, Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Planners Association.

This event is made possible by a partnership with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Town of Bristol, and Bristol Core.

Banner artwork by Bristol artist Reed Prescott