Achievements To Date
In the Fall of 2012 several community members attended Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) Conferences to learn more about preserving old buildings in small communities. We had the first of several community meetings to talk about the project, listen to ideas and suggestions, define goals and begin to form a strategic plan for the first phase of work to be done, as well as how to “re-purpose” the building.
We received a grant from PTV for a building assessment which was conducted by Thomas Keefe of Middlebury, an architect specializing in historic buildings. He provided us with a preliminary report citing current conditions, and a proposed timeline of repairs/restoration in order of priority; structurally speaking.
December 2012 – Signed the papers with the United Church of Bakersfield and East Fairfield and acquired the building for $1.00.
Winter 2012-'13 – formed the core group of the "Friends of the Meeting House", and met numerous times to discuss fundraising and grant-seeking possibilities.
February/March 2013 – launched a fundraising campaign to raise $5000 to match funds received from the PTV for immediate repairs. We met our goal, thanks to the Vermont Communities Foundation and friends and neighbors.
March/April 2013 – The electrical system was upgrated to include a new service panel, wiring and some new lighting fixtures. The old fuel tank and oil furnace were removed and the entrance walk-way leveled.
April 2013 – Jim and Margi Cameron hosted a magnificent Cajun Dinner to raise money for the Meeting House. Over 50 guests enjoyed great food and jazz by Will, Dono and Skeeter, and we raised over $2500 in tickets and Silent Auction pledges.
June 2013 – The Meeting House opened its doors to the public for an Open House with music by The Missisquoi River Band and homemade wood-fired pizza. A good turn out and opportunity to reveal the possibilities as a art center/music venue.
June 2013 - A curious pipe organ afficionado stopped in on his way home from the National Pipe Organ Conference in Burlingion and examined our pipe organ and provided us with some history. The organ was built by E.H. Smith originally of St. Armand, QUE. and later of Montgomery, VT. He had an organ manufactory in Enosburg and ours is supposedly only one of three left in the state. Currently not operational, we hope someday to restore the organ to its former glory.
August 2013 – No Strings Marionette Company perform Jack and the Beanstalk in the Meeting House for the finale of Black Creek Adventure Camp.
Jazz Night at The Meeting House with pianist Michael Arnowit was a memorable experience for many. Rob Couture repaired the eaves on the back of building, re-roofed the extension over the organ, and removed the old (unsafe) chimney.
May to September 2014 – "Summer Evenings with Vermont Treasures," our first annual Concert Series featured 5 concerts by beloved local musicians and raised enough money for the needed repairs to the Belltower.
September 2014 – The Belltower was repaired, re-roofed, scraped and painted. Rob Couture (the carpenter) even cleaned up the beautiful old bronze bell, given to the town of East Fairfield by the Ladies Aid Society in 1887.
November 1, 2014 – Friends and musicians joined Becky and her family in a standing room only celebration of the life and music of John Cassel who'd passed away on September 17. It was the perfect venue for an intimate memorial service for a dear friend.
2015 – A year of fundraising, concerts, weddings, meetings and more research into future grants and crowd-funding possibilities.
January, February, March 2016 - Organized the upcoming summer concert series. Installed a brand new furnace and duct work to allow a longer season of events and community gatherings!
April through December, 2016 – Our third year of concerts, a Christmas celebration and continued work on grants and raising money for matching funds for the window project.
Early 2017 - Received grant from the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation for $11,540, half the amount needed for the windows! Also received a matching grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont to begin design work on a new entrance for The Meeting House with wheelchair accessibility and outdoor performance space!
Summer 2017 - Completed window restoration project, including storm windows, and had another successful Concert Series. Applied for and received grant from The Vermont Arts Council for improved accessibility and outdoor terrace. ($30,000)
Fall/Winter 2017/2018 - R&D on new front entrance and ramp. Worked with architect to finalize design and lined up all players to be ready for early spring starting date.
Summer/Fall 2018 - Designed and built outdoor performance stage and wheelchair ramp. Raised $39,000 in matching funds for VAC grant.
2019 - Received a $10,000 grant from the 1772 Foundation, and raised an additional $10K for exterior repairs and painting which was completed in June of 2020.
2020/21 - And then Covid happened....summer concert series cancelled.
2022 - Resumed summer concert series with outdoor shows. Reinforced the worst of the "bounce" in the floor. Conducted another facility assessment with the help of PTV, to determine next steps and set priorities. Planned a fundraising campaign for the restoration of the organ.
Continue to reinforce bouncy areas in floor
Restore overhead lighting
Continue to improve house sound system