For his work during the past 9 years, we wish to nominate James C. Gallagher, President of Upright Steeple Society, for the 2018 Preservation Award.
Jim spearheaded a group which was formed to secure the future of the building which housed the First Congregational Church of Lyndon, Vermont. Built in 1828, this building had weathered two centuries as the centerpiece of Lyndon Corner, but was in need of vast structural repairs.
Community members organized a meeting as a plea for input for ways to save the building. Jim Gallagher immediately proposed that a committee be formed and be called “The Upright Steeple Society” (referencing the leaning steeple that was about to collapse). Volunteering to head such a group showed a lot of courage.
Jim assembled a board of trustees and has been the ringmaster of our entire endeavor. The board being hands-on, possessing a variety of skills and having done much dirty work themselves, had Jim encouraging them and participating himself. We started with a building with rotting timbers, unsafe floors, leaking roof, water in the cellar, no heat and / or plumbing and a leaning steeple. Jim has been the one who has always seen the vision and has stepped up to lead us toward the goal. Today we have an incredibly beautiful and highly treasured facility. The building is now named The York Street Meeting House.
Jim brought awareness and support to the project from the Northeast Kingdom and beyond. His career as an attorney has been advantageous in working closely with state and town officials to ensure that all regulations were followed. At all times, he kept his board on task and informed.
Personal contact is important to our project, our community and to Jim. He is always present at YSMH functions and the one who does the “ASKS” of the big donors; Jim is the public face of our group. He has made numerous presentations and has been interviewed by VPR and various publications. Jim has participated in Preservation Trust and Historical Society offerings and encourages the trustees to do the same. He truly believes in, and is supportive of, the preservation of historic buildings to enhance our communities.
His outreach has included employment of the Work Camp from the Correctional Center in St. Johnsbury. Jim contracted them to do many jobs for us, giving the participants a place to learn skills that would make them employable after their incarceration (as well as fostering in them a sense of pride and self-worth). In addition, NVU at Lyndon recently sent students from their Media program to provide sound and lighting for a show at YSMH. These are both resources in our community that Jim sought out and highlighted in a positive way.
Jim’s tireless efforts to make something better and useful for the Lyndon community is appreciated and admired by all of us who witness the time, effort and countless sacrifices he makes to help achieve this goal of preserving something meaningful.