GUILFORD >> The owners of a dairy barn more than 200 years old have received a small matching grant that will help them renovate the building and convert it into a cider-making facility.
"I bought the Bullock Farm with my ex in 1980 and I've owned it ever since," said Anne Rider. "At that time it was a dairy farm being operated by Fred and Stuart Cheney."
In 1969, the Bullock family sold the farm to a pair of developers, but those plans fell through, said Rider. Meanwhile, the farmhouse and the dairy barn was rented out. After Rider purchased the farm, she planted a number of apple trees on the property, mostly Cortland and McIntosh.
Now, Rider's daughter, Maggie Foley, and her son-in-law, Peter Welch, live in the farmhouse.
"Peter is the driving force behind the rehabilitation of the barn," said Rider. "It's a beautiful historic barn with lots of historic elements, but it is in need of some work."
Welch has been pressing and making cider for the family, but wants to make even more, hopefully for sale, she said.
"We realized the state of the barn is pretty fragile and as is it wouldn't be an asset we could use. Still, we wanted to preserve it."
Earlier this week, Rider and family learned they had received $15,000 from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, one of the grants that was part of $232,517 in aid for "the restoration and maintenance of significant buildings that contribute to Vermont' agricultural history."
Other recipients included Rocky Dale Gardens, a specialty plant nursery in Bristol, Andersonville Farm in Glover, Taplin Hill Farm in Corinth and Miller Hill Farm in Sudbury.
"Vermont's rural landscape, dotted by iconic agricultural buildings, is the core of our culture, heritage, and economy. Whether they are active farms or adaptively used for recreation or tourism, these buildings are an integral part of our state's brand and vital to its economic vitality," said Noelle MacKay, Commissioner of Housing and Community Development for the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. "This year's request for project funding demonstrates the importance of these agricultural resources to Vermonters."
"$15,000 helps a lot," said Rider. "It's a matching grant, but even $30,000 isn't enough to do the whole job. It is enough to stabilize the foundation and repair some cracks."
"This matching grant program continues to successfully elevate the profile of agricultural-based preservation," said Laura V. Trieschmann, Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer. "The recipients deserve recognition for their commitment to these historic resources, which not only recount Vermont's agricultural past but strengthen the significance of our working landscapes."
Rider, an active participant in the Guilford and surrounding communities for many years, said it's important to preserve Vermont's heritage, both for utilitarian reasons and for esoteric reasons, such as representing tradition in the Green Mountain State.
"If you turn onto Weatherhead Hollow Road you this big barn and this big open field. Visually, it really stands out. It's really important to us to preserve this historic barn and the other historic elements of Guilford."
The state-funded Barn Preservation Grant program helps individuals, municipalities, and non-profit organizations restore or rehabilitate historic agricultural buildings. Since its inception in 1992, the program has granted almost $2.5 million towards the preservation of over 380 historic agricultural buildings around the state. To qualify, buildings must be listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Division for Historic Preservation within the Department of Housing and Community Development is part of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
For more information, visit accd.vermont.gov/sites/accd/files/Documents/strongcommunities/historic/FY2016_Barn_Grants.pdf.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.