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Preservation Champion: Wally Thrall, McIndoe Falls

Preservation Champion: Wally Thrall, McIndoe Falls

“People have asked if I am sentimental about having gone to school here. Not that much. It’s really about the fact that this building is exceptional. It was built from all local materials, including all the lumber. We don’t have buildings like this anymore. And here is an opportunity to save a building and put it to good use for the next 100 years.”

As president of the board of the nonprofit McIndoe Falls Academy, Wally Thrall is leading the effort to upgrade and reinvigorate the 1853 Academy building which has been used as a library, post office and small meeting space since the school left in 1969. Though 265 people in town voted against a recent bond to move the town offices here, 220 people voted in favor of rehabilitating the building, signaling to Wally and others that there is great support for repurposing this space.

Recent work has included abatement, structural work and sill work. Fundraising is underway for access and code improvements, including a rear addition for an elevator and bathrooms. This Sunday, the community will be celebrating a recent surprise bequest of $350,000 from a 101-year-old graduate, 80% of which will be directed to a fund specifically for building maintenance. The now reinvigorated eight-member board (including six graduates, two of which are Wally’s 1969 classmates Larry Thomas and Jan Wood) envision all kinds of cultural, educational, social, and recreational possibilities for the future of the building and the surrounding 2.5 acres.

“I grew up in McIndoe Falls. I think we can do better as a community and enjoy living here more if we can work together and do things together. I’m hopeful this building will provide a meeting place. You have a building like this, let’s use it!”

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