10.25.10

Leahy Secures $65,000 For Guilford Country Store

Friends Of Algiers Hoping To Open Store By Summer, 2011

GUILFORD, Vt. (MONDAY, Oct. 25) – U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy Monday told members of the Friends of Algiers Village and project partners working to reopen the Guilford Country Store that he has secured a $65,000 grant in partnership with the Preservation Trust of Vermont to help with their efforts.  During a news conference at the store, leadership from the Friends of Algiers Village estimated the store would reopen next summer.

“I have long believed that Vermont’s village stores help define our state and provide neighbors a place to catch up on local politics and on the weather -- the most important of Vermont concerns – and on each others’ lives and families,” said Leahy during the news conference.  “I am proud to stand with you today as part of your effort to reopen the heartbeat of this village, the Guilford Country Store.”

The Friends of Algiers Village recently purchased the 1817 Broad Brook House in Algiers Village.  The Broad Brook House, originally a hotel and stage coach stop, according to the Friends of Algiers Village, has been at the center of the small Southern Vermont community’s economic and social activity for 193 years.  The Guilford Country Store, which was housed in the Broad Brook House, closed in July.

Eric Morse, president of the Friends Of Algiers, said the nonprofit was approached by the store’s former owner, Patricia Good, in 2009 with the suggestion that the group buy the property.  Morse said Good hoped the sale would guarantee that the historic building would be preserved and that the store could continue to operate.  The Friends Of Algiers voted to do just that and has been busy ever since -- raising money, procuring donations and grants, and placing a historic preservation easement on the building.  The Friends of Algiers have contracted with the Brattleboro architectural firm of Williams and Frehsee to design the remodeling of the store space and to guide repairs to the building.  At the same time the group is investigating the possibility of establishing affordable housing in the building’s second floor apartments.

Leahy said he secured the funding as part of a grant he wrote into the federal government’s 2010 budget to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and to the Preservation Trust of Vermont.  Leahy said the funds have helped him continue the Village Revitalization Initiative he created with the Preservation Trust of Vermont in 2005 to partially fund community-led efforts to restore historic buildings in Vermont villages and return them to community use.

Leahy pointed to the Friends of Algiers’ successful fundraising efforts as a critical reason why he thought this project deserved federal funds.  In two years, people across the community have donated more than $165,000 to the effort and the Friends of Algiers have received separate grants from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Community Development Program -- a federally funded U.S. Housing and Urban Development program -- to help purchase the building and plan for the reopening of the store.  The Preservation Trust of Vermont has been providing consultation, training, and supervision, with additional funding to the project provided by the Freeman Foundation of Stowe.  Leahy noted that in September, the Friends of Algiers began formally looking for an operator of the store.  The plans call for including a public rest room, an area for customers to sit with their coffee and donuts while debating town affairs, and accessibility modifications. 

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