Readsboro pop-up raises funds for historic building

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READSBORO — A holiday pop-up store inside the E.J. Bullock Building will raise money to replace the historic structure's roof.

Readsboro Hometown Redevelopment, the nonprofit that has owned the building for about a decade, is selling an array of items in its inventory, including antiques, dinnerware, glassware and Christmas ornaments and accessories. Local craftspeople are also selling their wares, which include maple syrup, kitchen furnishings, quilts, blankets, knitted goods and photography.

The store's hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday until Dec. 28.

The building's first-floor space, decorated by RHR board member Elaine Dove, features a Christmas tree surrounded by wrapped, mystery presents available for purchase. The Living History Association, a nonprofit dedicated to historic reenactment, has merchandise and educational materials on display. Artist Mark Lowe painted panels that depict a wintry scene.

RHR hopes the pop-up store, which opened in mid-November, will help to raise $30,000 for a roof replacement expected to cost about $130,000, according to board president Sue Bailey. The group has applied for a grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont to cover a portion of that cost.

The building's mansard roof — a mix of rubber, tin and other materials — is in poor condition, according to Bailey and Jim Dassatti, another board member. When wind unexpectedly displaced a metal cover on a flat portion of the roof last year, a beach umbrella, in lieu of a tarp, briefly served to keep out the rain, they recalled.

"People got a chuckle out of it," Dassatti said.

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Santa Claus is expected to visit the pop-up store from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, according to a news release. That day, the store will offer free hot chocolate, assorted goodies, and "grab bags" filled with candy and school supplies for 100 children.

The arrival of the pop-up store follows an extensive overhaul of the building's 3,000-square-foot basement and the installation of a heating system that allows the first floor to be used year-round. The project, supported by a state grant and fundraising by RHR, cost about $57,000.

The renovated basement may function as storage space this winter, Dassatti said, but the group is mulling a range of options for the future. Suggested uses have included a brewery and laundromat, he added.

Recent and planned improvements to the building — future plans include refurbishing upper floors and installing an elevator — are part of an overarching goal of restoring the building "to its original design and character," an effort anticipated to cost a total of $2.5 million, according to a display board at the store.

The restoration "will raise the profile and appearance of the entire Main Street area in Readsboro, encouraging other positive changes and economic growth," the display board says.

The building, located at 7012 Main St., dates to about 1890, Dassatti said.

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