At our March 2011 Town meeting, the Selectboard led a brief discussion regarding the future use and maintenance of the Strafford Town House. Following the meeting, nearly two dozen residents volunteered to help form a group that would try to address many of the concerns expressed at the meeting. The group meets every month and calls itself The Town House Advisory Group (THAG).
The mission of the Town House Advisory Group is to advise the Select Board on policies and means of raising revenue for the purpose of using, maintaining, and preserving the historic Strafford Meeting House, and to implement such related procedures as approved by the Select Board.
The historic 1799 Town House (some would call it ‘the soul of the town’) requires constant attention, and much of the maintenance is expensive. Soon the building will need work on the spire, exterior painting was skipped this past year, the floors need repair, and the windows should be re-glazed and painted. The group has been looking at how other towns with similar buildings manage their historic structures, and the group has learned that some towns actually promote the use of their historic buildings and charge fees which raise revenue for maintenance. To that end, the Town House Advisory Group has, with the approval of the Selectboard, revised our fee structure upwards to be more in line with fees charged in other towns for the use of their historic buildings. It has also been determined that the Town House season of operation will be from May 1 through October 31.
The Town House Advisory Group has been meeting regularly since Town Meeting 2011. They have been actively involved in creating ways to help improve the building so it will be here and usable for generations to come.
Town House Spire Restoration Report
The Back House
Click on Image for a Slideshow
As of Monday, December 10, other than clean up, the Spire Restoration Project is complete. It has been a challenge moving forward with the early onset of winter but the determined crew headed by Jan Lewandoski prevailed. It was lifted back in place on Thursday, December 6. Once the crane arrived it all happened pretty rapidly. The last detail was the installation of the newly gilded weathervane and top ball. The painting will be completed in the spring when the temperature will allow the paint to dry.
This has been an important project to undertake made possible by the generosity of donors, foundations, endowments, a grant from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, and volunteers working directly to raise funds and on the project itself. Looking up at the sparkling restored weathervane, new roofs on the lantern and spire, and the double ball turned by Mike Hebb, it is very satisfying to know that this project is now ready to stand the test of time for generations to come.
Now on to our next project: Electrical upgrades to "enlighten our space".
Thanks to all who participated in this endeavor.
Town House Advisory Group Chair