ROCKINGHAM — The Rockingham Historical Commission recently announced the winners of the 2015 Rockingham Old House Awards.
Every few years, the Rockingham Historical Commission sponsors these awards to celebrate property owners in Rockingham who have restored or enhanced either their historic home or their commercial building.
This year, the commission recognized three property owners in Rockingham who have made significant improvements, repairs, and renovations to their properties. The recipients of these awards were nominated by members of the community and then selected by the Rockingham Historical Commission. The awardees will receive a 2015 Rockingham Old House Award plaque at a small awards ceremony hosted by the Rockingham Historical Commission at Main Street Arts in Saxtons River on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The Old House Award program was supported in part by a grant through the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and was administered through Rockingham's Certified Local Government program.
The 2015 Old House Award recipient for a public building was Main Street Arts, for its Warner Block building, circa 1850. For a small residence, the winner was Theresa Spear. And for a large residence, the winner was Jurrien Swarts.
Main Street Arts is a non-profit community arts center that recently led a bold capital campaign to expand the original building and make it handicap accessible. The Main Street Arts building — known as the "Warner Block" and the "Odd Fellows Building" — was built in 1850. The first floor served as a meat market and the second floor housed the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No.33. Main Street Arts purchased the adjoining property — an abandoned and condemned brownfields site — removed the building and built an addition in its place, which now provides the center with an accessible elevator, a lobby and additional classroom space. The project was funded through federal grants, historic tax credits and by community support.
In 2012, Theresa Spear purchased the "Colin Lake House," circa 1925, on Westminster Street in Saxtons River. This gable-roofed cottage was named in honor of its original owner, Colin Lake, who lived here until the 1950s. Over the course of one year, with the help of a local carpenter, Spear restored the house using sustainable materials and green building practices.
The "Fenton House," circa 1890, on Hapgood Street in Bellows Falls, is a Victorian home on a prominent corner property. Jurrien Swarts repainted the exterior and rebuilt the front porch, fashioned with period-style columns. This work has vastly improved both the longevity and the curb appeal of the house.
Honorable Mentions included Mary S. Grippo of Bellows Falls; Nancy and Ron Tompkins of Saxtons River; Kevin and Barbara Alix of Bellows Falls; The Two Yellow Dogs Trust of Bellows Falls; and Richard H. Hoose of Bellows Falls.