Efforts to use historic places to revitalize communities and provide workforce development in Canaan, Bradford, Hardwick, and Bridgewater, Vermont will get a boost thanks to grants awarded this month by the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV). The Trust’s Interim President, Liz Gamache notes, “At this time of the health and economic crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this funding is more important than ever because it will support efforts to rebuild and creatively move local, rural economies forward in the future.”
These grants are made possible by a $1 million award from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to the Preservation Trust of Vermont, along with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, Maine Preservation and the Preservation League of New York State. Through an innovative collaboration, these four organizations have evenly split the award to provide grants to fifteen projects in four states.
“By investing in their historic structures these communities are creating spaces that will bring a brighter economic future to rural Vermont and New England. Their creative reuse for co-working, job training and value-added agriculture offers a model for other communities searching for strategies to revitalize their local economies,” said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The funding for this award comes from a $4 million set aside to focus on helping communities reviving their forest-based economies. Leahy created the set aside within the Northern Border Regional Commission’s annual funding in 2018.
The four Vermont projects will strengthen the communities they serve as well as their economies that are suffering from the decline of the forest products industry. These grants support workforce development, job training in preservation renovation, childcare and senior centers, community-supported enterprises, and visitor destinations. All projects are in historic locations including a former school, an historic residence, an old five-and-dime store, and an iconic barn.
“These grants will enable local organizations to promote job development in historically significant structures, creating opportunities for growth and creativity in our rural communities. Now, more than ever, federal programs like the NBRC are needed to spur the community-based development that will help our state recover from the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Peter Welch.
Studies show that historic preservation investment supports small business and good-paying jobs, improves property values, keeps money circulating in local economies, catalyzes additional investment and increases community pride. All fifteen region-wide grants will enable local community efforts to provide greater economic vitality and connectedness to our historic places. They come at a critical time as these small rural towns will face even greater challenges when the current Coronavirus emergency is over.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont anticipates that the projects supported by these funds will be implemented as soon as is safely possible given the current health restrictions. Gamache stated, “We are deeply grateful for the support of Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, as well as the Congressional Delegations of Maine, New Hampshire, and New York who helped to make NBRC funds available.” She continued, “We look forward to sharing progress reports and celebrating in-person ribbon-cuttings when safely possible over the next two years.” Jennifer Goodman, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance added, “Not only will we celebrate progress in preserving these historic structures, but we will also celebrate the jobs created and the new economic activity that will result from these investments.”
Projects funded in Maine, New York and New Hampshire are:
- Maine: Timelines Community, Inc. (Thorndike, ME); Maine Highlands Senior Center (Dover-Foxcroft, ME); Centre Theatre, Inc. (Dover-Foxcroft, ME); Association Culturelle Et Historique Du Mont Carmel (Lille, ME; Belfast Maskers (Belfast, ME).
- New York: Oneida Community Mansion House (Oneida, NY); Historic Saranac Lake (Saranac Lake, NY); Adirondack Historical Association (Blue Mountain Lake, NY); Whallonsburg Civic Association, Inc. (Essex, NY).
- New Hampshire: Canaan, Vermont School District (Canaan, VT) [grant co- supported by VT]; Mill Hollow Heritage Association (Alstead, NH); Sustainable Forest Futures Inc. in conjunction with Northern Forest Center (Lancaster, NH).