When the Preservation Trust was starting up 30 years ago, one of the key guiding principles was that we would focus whatever energy, expertise, and resources we had on helping local organizations and communities save and use their historic places. We didn't desire to build a big organization with lots of staff, and we didn't want to take charge of every building project or community revitalization effort. We wanted to help build local capacity to do this important work of saving Vermont's essential character.
Sometimes things actually work out just as they were planned. Over these past 30 years we've helped communities save more than a thousand buildings and put them into productive use.
Just this past year, our five full and part-time staff worked on 258 projects in 133 different communities. We provide technical assistance, training opportunities, encouragement, funding, and occasionally a little nudge. But in the end, we depend upon local passion and commitment for success. Check out the enclosed map to see where we worked last year.
Putney is one example of the communities where we have played a major role over the past year and a half. It's a community that has had to face incredible adversity and challenge. First the local bookstore closed in April 2008-it was one of the key gathering places in the village center. Just a month later, in May 2008 the Putney General Store suffered a major fire that closed the store that had been the center of the village for more than 200 years. The community was devastated, and the loss of these two businesses meant that the remaining businesses in the village center struggled. A once vibrant village was suffering, and the town's tax base was at risk. And then this fall, just as the Putney Historical Society had finished rebuilding the structure and putting back the slate roof on the General Store, an arsonist set a blazing fire that reduced the building to ashes.
Fortunately, Putney residents are all about perseverence. They have great passion for their sense of community and their village center, and they are determined they are not going lose it. At every step of the way, we've been there to help.
The Preservation Trust worked with a batch of Putney residents and raised the funds necessary to help open a community supported bookstore. It's not an easy time to be an independent bookseller, but the store continues and we hope it will thrive in the coming years.
Immediately after the 2008 fire at the General Store, we worked with the owners to see if the resources would be there for them to rebuild the store. When it became clear that the insurance proceeds wouldn't be sufficient to rebuild, we purchased an option on the property in hopes that the Putney Historical Society would take on the challenge of rebuilding. They did, and we've worked as partners ever since. We've provided technical assistance, seed funds, fundraising support, a little cheerleading, and a major grant from our Village Revitalization Program which is a partnership with Senator Patrick Leahy. After the second fire on November 1, 2009 the Putney Historical Society committed to rebuild the store, and we're committed to continue our support of the effort. The historic building has been lost, but the village needs its General Store!
Because of our contributors and funders, we are able to support Putney and hundreds of community-based projects around Vermont ever year. The passion, commitment, and willingness to persevere that we see in every nook and cranny of Vermont is inspiring, and is a big part of what our special place is all about.
Thank you for giving us the resources that make it possible for us to help. I hope you will be willing to help this year.
Preservation Trust of Vermont
104 Church Street
Burlington, Vermont 05401