Chesterfield to open new visitors' center

AUSABLE CHASM - Thanks to three-way partnership between a business, town, and nonprofit organization, a historic building near AuSable Chasm is taking on new life.

The Estes House, a 19th century sandstone home overlooking Rainbow Falls, was recently donated by the AuSable Chasm Corporation for use as the Town of Chesterfield's new Visitors' Interpretive Center. The exchange was celebrated July 27 with a ceremonial key passing.

"It's just a good thing for the community," said AuSable Chasm Corp. Executive Director Tim Bressette, noting how the building has sat unused for over a decade.

The building was originally built as the home of Herbert Estes, a Civil War veteran and superintendent of the AuSable Horse Nail Company in the late 1800s. Later, it served as the residence for Chasm management.

As part of the agreement, the town will own the building and be responsible for renovating and maintaining it. In exchange, donation of the building acts as matching funds for a grant to establish the visitors' center, one of a series along the Lakes to Locks Passage.

Morrow said the town applied for and received four grants totaling $559,300 that will aid in the renovation of the historic building, including asbestos removal, handicap accessibility, and a new, more efficient heating system. Renovations are expected to be completed in time for the facility to open next June.

"This is the perfect place for a visitors' center, down at the chasm, because of the thousands of tourists that come through there every year," Morrow said.

AuSable Chasm staff will continue to mow the lawn on the property, and the company will provide water and sewer services to the building at no cost to the town. In turn, the company hopes to benefit from the center as an added attraction.

"I think it will make people's experience of visiting the chasm more fulfilling," said Bressette.

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