For several years, three 19th century buildings in the heart of downtown Bristol had been largely vacant and in deteriorating condition.
Located on North Street across from the town green, the 1810 boarding house, the 1813 Tomasi House and the 1863 former Peake Family home form an important part of the residential neighborhood adjoining the downtown business district. The economics of restoring any one of these was not encouraging. It would take a community with a charitable impulse to pull this off.
Enter Bristol Village Cohousing , Vermont Integrated Architecture and Raycroft Meyer Landscape Design.
Their successfully executed vision created 14 units of housing on the three parcels plus five small cottages on the rear of the property and a triplex designed to match the local vernacular on the North Street frontage.
The existing 19th century houses have been afforded a new life:
- The Tomasi house now houses two energy-efficient townhouses. Many original interior details were maintained.
- The Peake house has been repurposed as a Common House. With fire safety, finishes and accessibility upgrades, the building now bustles with activity. It is the center point for cohousing community meals, and creative and recreational pastimes for both residents and the broader community.
- The former boarding house could not be saved but the original façade design has been preserved and the historic street-front porch reconstructed. The building now houses four energy efficient condominium apartments.
The entire project creatively used modern building science for project-wide energy efficiency including taking advantage of passive solar gain and innovative heating systems. Rooftop photovoltaic systems offset 25-30% of the community’s energy consumption. All of the newly constructed buildings meet Efficiency Vermont’s High Performance Home standard.
With its 21st-century vision, this “community within a community” enhances Bristol’s historic character by creating density downtown, preserving and restoring a late 19th century streetscape, and showcasing modern strategies for energy efficiency. Bristol’s newest neighbors contribute to the economic vibrancy of the downtown area, shopping and dining at the nearby commercial town center and actively volunteering in the schools and local nonprofits.
In the center of the Bristol, Vermont Historic District, the Bristol Village Cohousing Project exemplifies the notion that honoring a town’s past helps keep it vital for the future.
Preservation Award to Raycroft-Meyer Landscape Architecture, Vermont Integrated Architecture, the Bristol Cohousing Community, Bristol Commons Development LLC, and Steward Construction for the adaptive reuse of several historic buildings in Bristol.