A helping hand for Vermont's old barns

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RICHMOND, Vt. (WCAX) "It was pretty emotional for me because my grandparents built the barn in 1915," said David Conant of Conant's Riverside Farms.

This was the same barn that Conant's grandfather worked in. Wednesday morning, he started the process of giving it new life. "One-hundred years later we are restoring heritage," Conant said.

The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation funded this Richmond project and 16 others around the state. The state pays up to $15,000-thousand, and the farm matches that money.

At Conant's farm they are taking down and restoring the cupolas on top of the former dairy and hay barn. Historic preservationist Elliot Lothrop says it helps keep Vermont's character alive. "Barnes are an easy thing to love, especially in Vermont -- very iconic," he said.

But this is one of many barns statewide that need help. The state says there are hundreds that need to be cleaned up or they'll eventually collapse. It's something Lothrop sees too often. "Every every year they're disappearing, and every year we have heavy snow winter roofs collapse -- and they're gone," he said.

So why not let that happen? Restored barns can be used for other purposes on the farm, or events like weddings. David Conant is not sure what the plan for this building is yet. "We're looking to be able to discover any possibilities for how it can -- how it can reinvent itself," he said.

Now that the cupolas are off the roof, they will be restored and put right back on in just a few months.