The Mountain Times

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From school to saving - Teen Center gets a boost of confidence

KILLINGTON-A group of local historians cleared the first hurdle last week in reigniting their purpose and saving a historic schoolhouse in Killington.

The Sherburne Historians, Inc. got permission from the Killington Select Board to borrow $250 of town funds, to be paid back by July 1, to match a $250 grant they recently received from the Burlington-based Preservation Trust of Vermont to study needed renovations for the former South Sherburne - West Bridgewater School Building that has most recently been used as the Killington Teen Center.

The old schoolhouse was moved from the intersection of Route 100 south and Route 4 in the neighborhood known as South Sherburne in the early 1960s to 2929 River Road before the main east to west highway was reconfigured and constructed, according to historian Ellen J. Willis.

In an effort to save the structure from demolition back then, resident Grover Wright bought it for $400 and, with the help of others, moved it to a safer home on River Road.

After the move, the vacant school was renamed the Sherburne-West Bridgewater Memorial Library and the shelves were stocked with residents' personal collections of books and history.

It was used as the town's main library until 1999 when the town built another one across the street.

Willis' own father-in-law went to school there and the historian club has targeted the structure for preservation a second time in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

Irene ravaged the newly-renamed "Teen Center," but Willis and others believe it is not beyond repair.

The $500 will be used to hire a consultant to recommend repairs and provide cost estimates for repairs, in the hopes the building can be salvaged and used as a summer museum.

The town of Killington, under the direction of Town Manager Seth Webb, has estimated repairs could cost $100,000 or more to bring it back to its original state, based on conversations with area contractors.

According to Webb, the town only has about $10,000 in flood insurance money to put toward the structure.
That's where the historians step in.

Willis said the club is planning to work with local business owners Joy and Phil Black and the library to gather enough of a collection to stock the old school/library again, with documents that chronicle the ski resort town's history that are currently stored haphazardly in homes, in the basement of the new library and collected out of the first floor of the renovated town hall.

And the structure's architecture is unique - as one of the last one-room schoolhouses built around 1924, the windows let in more sunlight than seen in other schoolhouses around Vermont because it was the product of health regulations intended to better the health of students, according to Willis.

Willis also said the project is meant to increase interest in the town's history and hopefully, boost membership in the history club.
The consultant will also consider what the club can do to start a fundraising campaign for this project and others in the future - including how to preserve the old firehouse on River Road and the Grange Hall across the street, now called the Killington Events Hall, Willis said.

A meeting on the structure and the history club's progress with it will be held at the Sherburne Memorial Library April 9 at 1:30 p.m.

Cristina Kumka is a correspondent for The Mountain Times, Cristina can be reached at cristina.kumka@yahoo.com

Photo submitted by E.J. Willis