Brandon receives $20,000 grant for town hall

The Friends of the Brandon Town Hall at the State House in Montpelier was awarded $20,000 from the 2008 Cultural Facilities Grants. The Cultural Facilities Grant program is administered by the Vermont Arts Council in conjunction with the Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Museum & Gallery Alliance, and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The $20,000 award is specifically geared to installing the dry powdered fire suppression system, which they have estimates ranging from $72-$75,000. Per the president, MeiMei Brown, The Friends of the Brandon Town Hall was formed in 1988 to preserve the crumbling Brandon Town Hall. In 2005, they became a non-profit organization. This committee of local community leaders has three important goals: Anchor the historic restoration of the town and serve as a keystone and guidepost from which other historic renovations can be realized; return the building to the community to again discover the thrill of live performances, the arts, and community cohesiveness through events designed to reach all community members, regardless of age or income; and bring new vitality to the downtown as a destination for visitors and a draw for local businesses. The Brandon Town Hall initially built in 1861 had its last town meeting in March of 1979 and was closed to the public since 1981. The basement has been used for town offices, and the main level for storage. Fund-raising efforts to date for renovation have included a total of $386,000 as follows: Walter Cerf Community Fund, $129,000 Vermont Preservation Trust, $10,000 State of Vermont, $50,000 Town of Brandon, $35,000 Vermont Community Fund, $10,000 Total: $334,000 Brandon community supporters: $52,000 Gran total: $386,000 Brandon community supporters includes contributions from individuals, the local Chamber of Commerce, local VFW Post, and proceeds from local fund-raising events. An additional $15,450 from individual resident donations permitted the recent purchase of 212 chairs. Ongoing renovations will continue, but so far have included new marble front steps, railings, exterior painting, re-pointing brick masonry, and a handicapped lift. Brown says that on board is architect Jay White of the Robert Carl Williams Associates. The Friends of the Brandon Town Hall continue to apply for further grants, such as challenge grants of $7,500 from the National Bank of Middlebury and $2,500 from the First Brandon Bank. This organization is determined to move forward with all future reconstruction and renovations to get the building up to code. Brown stated, the Friends of the Brandon Town Hall could not be more thrilled about the grant and looking forward to the townspeople in seeing them reach the goal of having everything done by May 1, 2008, just in time for the Vermont Preservation Trust Annual Meeting on May 2. For more details, see the Brandon Town Hall web site at : http://brandontownhall.org/donate.htm .

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