Celebrate the holidays and Pawlet’s Town Hall restoration progress with a benefit dinner at the Barn Restaurant on Tuesday, Dec. 11, starting at 6 p.m. The evening will include plated dinner, live music and a silent auction with lots of items for holiday gifts. The cost is $25 per person; for reservations call the Barn Restaurant at 802- 325-3088.
Proceeds will be used to help meet the match required by the Vermont Arts Council grant recently awarded to Pawlet for installing a fire escape on the back of the Town Hall.
Joe Clark of the Pawlet Select Board explains, “This latest step in the restoration of the town hall will make the upstairs auditorium available again for community events. Without a fire escape, use of the upstairs auditorium is very limited and requires the presence of a town fireman.”
The $26,930 Arts Council cultural facilities grant requires matching funds. Half of the match is to be met by private donations, and the remainder will be paid by the Town. Elizabeth Gibson of Pawlet says, “Thanks to many generous donors we have already raised a substantial portion of the match. We hope to complete this portion of the fundraising with a holiday community dinner, made possible by the generosity of Mark and Margaret McChesney of the Barn Restaurant.”
The money will go toward installation of a fire stair from the second floor auditorium space to the first floor porch, and for the repair of the north and west porches. An exit door will be created near the stage on the north wall of the auditorium. The exterior fire stair will cut through the existing roof of the porch below, ending at the north end of the west porch. A shed roof will cover the stair on the second floor. Both porches will be reinforced and receive guardrails.
Gibson said those who can’t make the dinner can send tax-deductible donations payable to “Pawlet Town Hall Restoration” directly to Judy Coolidge, Treasurer, Town of Pawlet, P.O. Box 128, Pawlet, VT 05761.
The Town Hall restoration project began in 2003 when voters decided by a margin of three-to-one not to build a new town office. Since then the downstairs offices have been renovated and the entire building made ADA-compliant. The cupola has been fully restored. Remaining work for the auditorium, in addition to the fire escape, includes skim-coating and stenciling the walls, installing lighting fixtures and restoring the newly stabilized plaster ceiling.
“Access to the Town Hall auditorium space with its stage will facilitate arts programs within the community,” notes Karen Folger, restoration project manager. “And this project will complete the overall plans for making our facility fully accessible to individuals with various disabilities.”
The Town Hall has served Pawlet’s town government continuously since it was constructed in 1881. The town offices are on the first floor, and the upstairs auditorium has been used over the years for town meetings, community groups, classes, and plays and other performances.
Since 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the auditorium has been closed to the public due to lack of elevator access. About three years ago, with the help of a previous VAC grant, the Town installed an elevator and a handicap bathroom off the auditorium, upgraded the wiring and heating, restored the historic windows, stabilized the historic plaster ceiling, and installed a smoke detection system.
The Pawlet Town Hall is an excellent example of High Victorian Italianate architecture and is the only public structure in Pawlet to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information contact Karen Folger, 645-9965 or firstname.lastname@example.org.