Old town hall in Monkton to get new mission
MONKTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is filled with old buildings and town leaders across the state are searching for ways to preserve their historic places. That includes Monkton’s former town hall.
The old town hall building was built in 1859 and was used all the way up until 2021, when a new town hall was built down the road. The more than a century-old building is on the National Register of Historic Places and members of the Monkton Museum and Historical Society are searching for a new purpose.
“The Monkton Historical Society has been working to prevent it from being sold privately until, hopefully, we can find an operator manager,” said the group’s Kristin Farrell. She says ideas are being thrown around following a 2020 town meeting vote that allowed the historical society to explore options. “Monthly music events to Ted-type talks; educational resource.”
Right now, the goal is for it to be an economic focal point of the town and maybe even a space to rent to different businesses. It sits on a heavily trafficked part of the small town. “We really don’t have a town center, a town main street,” said Farrell. “This is the closest we have and we currently do not have a general store in action. So, this is not to say that this could be that, but it certainly is a venue for people to show off.”
The historical society is working with the Addison Regional Economic Development to get funding for restoration. Farrell is advocating using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds once a concrete plan is in place. The goal is to preserve the building in whichever direction they take. “I think there’s a lot of stories to be told within the walls of that building so it should be saved,” said Farrell.
Laura Trieschmann with the Vermont State Historic Preservation Office, says Vermonters looking to give an old building new life is a common trend as time passes, and a welcome one, too. “You can’t imagine some of these towns without the white spires of their churches or their town halls. So, we need to find ways to protect the visual landmarks of our community that give us a center that gives us a place,” she said.
Some examples of buildings that have been revitalized to fit modern needs include the New Haven Depot and the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Rutland, which was turned into housing.
“An existing building is the greenest building, right? We’ve already put our energy into it. But buildings also by their nature, have more than one use when they were constructed,” said Trieschmann.
According to Trieschmann, there are more than 12,000 buildings nominated and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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