The restoration of the historic Union Cooperative Store bakery building is moving ahead at warp speed. After the Barre Historical Society saved it from demolition and later acquired ownership in 2004, it languished as a storage shed until a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015 raised the seed money to start its restoration as a functional bakery. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board gave $4,750 for a feasibility study and then in 2016 gave $50,000 to supplement the Kickstarter funds and in-kind donations to begin the preservation of the bakery.
Grants, Grants, and More Grants
Since then many grants have helped to preserve the bakery building: by repairing the back brick wall, repoint the exterior brick walls, replacing the windows, insulating the interior, pouring a new concrete floor, replacing the ceiling, replacing the modern garage door with a new door and porch, structural preparation for a bathroom, painting the interior, and preparing all surfaces up to four feet from the to withstand flood water. Here are some of the most recent:
- 6/11/2015: The Bay and Paul Foundations grant for $10,000 to repair roof with help from YouthBuild
- 7/12/2016: Another Bay and Paul Foundations grant for $10,000 to re-point exterior masonry walls with YouthBuild
- 9/9/1016: National Life Group Foundation Program grant for $2,500
- 12/14/2016: An anonymous grant from a supporter of the bakery $2,500
- 1/9/2017: The Patrick Foundation grant for $2,500
- 6/10/2017: Small and Inspiring Grant administered by the Vermont Community Foundation for $2,500 from the Tamarack Fund and the Sustainable Future Fund
Now a USDA grant has been received to support the purchase of all the equipment needed to make a functioning bakery. It even includes the money to build a wood fired oven!
- 7/11/2017: USDA Rural Business Development Grant for $30,000
An even more exciting part of the project is the way individuals and community organizations have contributed to turning the bakery into a reality. In addition to generous financial support from individuals and organizations continuing right up to the present (and hopefully long into the future), others have donated goods and services or provided them at bargain rates.
When we write next phase of the Bakery’s history, we will be able to recount the details of all the support we have received for this project, but at the moment we are focused on the future:
- Spaulding Middle School students will be building cubbies in the Bakery so people coming for workshops will have a place to store their belongings.
- An East Montpelier family has had some old maple trees, felled by a storm, specially milled so the wood can be used to build the tables for the bakery.
- U-32 High School students in the vocational program will be constructing the tables
from this fine old wood.
- YouthBuild teens are helping to repair the old wainscoting that covered a portion of the interior walls. They have previously helped with the masonry work and with replacing the roof.
More help needed before the Bakery can open
But… And there always seems to be a but with historic restoration projects. We have one more financial hurdle before we can open the bakery for the education of a new generation of bakers so the rest of us can revel in the smell of fresh baked bread. We do not yet have the funding for the electricity, plumbing, mechanicals and the handicap entrance. As project chair Carolyn Shapiro says,
“We still KNEAD THE DOUGH!”