Old Vermont barn becomes new art gallery - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Old Vermont barn becomes new art gallery

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The Homer Knight Barn sat abandoned along Route 2 in North Hero for decades, until one day when it caught the eye of a local artist.

"There was usually someone out there, which was very interesting. So, I figured it's sort of 'painterly,' as they say," Anne August said.

August soon decided to take a chance on the old barn.

"It came on the market and I figured, well, let's go for it," she said.

She purchased the building for $125,000 and invested another $125,000 to restore it, hoping to create a space for artists.

"I could see tapestries and works of art hanging from the rafters, you know, that kind of thing. So that was our vision," August said.

But she couldn't do it alone. Tuesday, August donated the Homer Knight Barn to Island Arts, a local nonprofit. The barn will be home to the Island Arts Academy, offering classes to children and anyone looking to learn something new.

"For 30 years we were all over the place, so now we will have a center where we can have a gallery open every day if we wish," said Katya Wilcox, the founder of Island Arts.

The nonprofit has big plans for the space and hopes to offer studio rentals and have a stage for performances. But it all comes with a price; Wilcox says restorations could cost roughly $500,000.

"We're looking for challenge grants maybe from a foundation so that people who give $10,000, it's actually $20,000," Wilcox said.

Community members piled into the barn admiring the progress that's already been made, excited to see the old barn brought back to life.

"This is something that the Islands needs and wants," Wilcox said. "This is not something that comes out of somebody's head, so this is why I'm sure it will be successful."

Wilcox isn't the only one ready to transform the art community in Grand Isle County; August says she, too, believes Island Arts will finish what she started.

"I think they'll do a wonderful job," August said. "They'll be able to do far more than I could, that's for sure."

As renovations continue, August says she plans to have the barn painted red this summer.

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