GUILFORD -- Fred Humphrey is hoping to see a lot of "happily shocked" faces on Oct. 14.
That's the date of an open house at the renovated Guilford Country Store, where a volunteer group is transforming an aging, shuttered retail space into a rejuvenated community gathering place.
A previous open house early in the project attracted about 200. Humphrey, vice president of Friends of Algiers Village Inc., hopes for an even larger turnout to see how much the store has changed.
"It's a very dramatic difference," he said.
Friends of Algiers stepped in and purchased the historic store, on Route 5 at Guilford Center Road, after its former owners got out of the business in 2010. The nonprofit has undertaken an extensive renovation project aimed at opening a shop and a small cafe later this year.
The business won't be open by Oct. 14, but the open house -- scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day -- will provide a preview.
"By that time, it will be very close to starting to set up the store," said Eric Morse, Friends of Algiers president. "So much progress has been made. We feel like we want people to see it."
While crews have been extensively renovating the store from top to bottom, Friends of Algiers administrators say the most striking change may be the restoration of original windows that now fill the space with natural light.
"It looks fantastic in there now," Morse said.
Volunteer work has played
"We've had, from time to time, volunteer work days with varying degrees of participation," he said.
Humphrey also recalled that, earlier in the project, volunteers did some heavy lifting to ready the basement for installation of support beams.
"Our volunteers pretty much cleaned out much of the earthen floor," he said.
Burlington-based Preservation Trust of Vermont has lent expertise to the Guilford store project.
And fundraising continues for the renovation, which carries an estimated $350,000 price tag and was supported in part by a $65,000 grant secured through U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
A donation link, along with more information about the project and the site's history, is available at www.guilfordvermontcountrystore.com.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.