Bakery building before and after restoration 2017
Bakery building before and after restoration 2017

The Bakery rises up!

The first phase of the restoration of the Union Cooperative Store bakery building is nearing completion. If all goes well, on Labor Day weekend, the doors of this historic building will reopen with a grand celebration as the “Rise Up Bakery”.

Focus on Youth

The celebration will be held in conjunction with the Socialist Labor Party Hall’s participation in the 2018 Vermont Reads statewide reading of Katherine Paterson’s book, Bread and Roses, Too.

Just as in the book, with its focus on youth, the focus of the Bakery restoration project has been to involve as many young people as possible.  We have demonstrated innovative ways to provide young people with educational opportunities to learn about history and culture while acquiring vocational skills in construction and culinary arts.

YouthBuild reroofing Bakery
YouthBuild working on the reroofing of the Bakery 9/10/15

A partnership with many different organizations has provided opportunities for teens to work beside professionals for the common goal of restoring the bakery.

  • YouthBuild has been involved from the beginning of the renovation, from replacing the roof to repairing the brick walls.
  • Central Vermont Career Center will have students from their plumbing and electrical program shadowing and learning from master tradespeople. At each work session, students learn from professionals about the occupation—the skills required and the history of the trade.

Collaboration has included working with King Arthur Flour, Capstone Community Action’s Community Kitchen Academy, Central Vermont Career Center Bake Shop, and Red Hen Bakery to plan the bakery’s layout, bakery equipment list and business plan. This group continues to serve as advisors as the project progresses.

A Modern Bakery — Adaptive Reuse

YouthBuild students watch demonstration at Historic brick workshop
YouthBuild members watch demonstration at historic brick workshop 9/29/2016

Because the Bakery building is part of the Socialist Labor Party Hall National Historic Landmark and on the National Register for Historic Places in its own right, the rehabilitation of the Bakery building has been carried out in accordance with historic guidelines for adaptive reuse, with the help of Historic Windsor, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the University of Vermont’s Historical Preservation Program.  All the participants have an opportunity to learn about the criteria for historical preservation.

Teens from YouthBuild learn construction skills while working on the bakery.  They have replaced the roof, repointed brick walls and repaired wainscoting.  Vocational students from the Central Vermont Career Center will shadow master trades people as they wire and plumb the bakery.

What they have learned…

  • One of the YouthBuild teens said that the project helps them learn about a lost generation of hard work. He said teens often don’t have a good work ethic and projects like this help to reclaim a lost work ethic.  He said he is proud of his work on the Bakery no matter how big or small it is.
  • Students have commented on how working and shadowing helps them learn more about their community and about their interest in different occupations. It helps them acquire skills and knowledge while learning about how and why their community values these buildings.

When the Bakery has risen

After the rehabilitation of the Bakery is complete:

♦ The bakery will be used by students from Central Vermont Career Center Bake Shop and from the Capstone Community Kitchen Academy Program. Both are within walking distance. Having the opportunity to learn how to work with a wood-fired oven will give them unique experience and increase their skills and value in the culinary field. Other youth baking programs have also expressed interest in using the facility.

♦ Local bakers will offer public workshops on wood-fired bread baking. These community workshops will compliment the City of Barre’s plans to make the historic area attractive to visitors by offering opportunities for those interested in wood-fired baking culinary skills. These workshops will also expand job possibilities for trainees and bakers.

♦ The bakery will support small businesses who will help fill the Bakery’s needs such as providing ingredients for the bread, firewood, and markets for distributing the bread. This outreach will help to expand opportunities for small businesses, such as the local wheat grower and miller, as well as expand local markets for wood-fired bread, such as the emerging Barre food cooperative store and the existing farmers’ market.  The Rise Up Bakery will be a part of a bigger movement in Vermont for buying local foods and supporting local businesses demonstrated by the development of food hubs, community supported agricultural (CSA) programs and programs such as Farm to PlateVermont FEED (farm to school project), and Farmers’ Markets.

We couldn’t have done it alone…

We have had generous support from a multitude of people and organizations.  Many volunteers (lawyers, engineers, architects, construction workers, bakers) have donated hours of their labor to making this unlikely project possible.

Major grants have been provided by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, The Vermont Community Foundation, The Bay and Paul Foundations, The Patrick Foundation, National Life Group Charitable Foundation, Janusz Korczak Memorial Fund and many other individuals and business have made donations to make the reconstruction possible.

But we still need some help…

Building arch on the top of the wood fired oven – photo Jeb Wallace Brodeur/Times Argus 1/12/18

We began with a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign which gave us the money to match grants and to begin our work, and we are now at a place where we need the last $20,000 to complete the renovation.  This will be for plumbing, electrical, mechanical and handicap access.

We are very grateful for all the community’s past support and now we look forward to your help for the last lap so we truly can celebrate Labor Day with fresh bread from this 1913 wood-fired Rise Up Bakery!

To keep up to date with the Bakery and get the latest information about the grand re-opening, subscribe to the Barre Historical Society’s email list (we promise no more than 12 emails per year).

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Can’t you just smell the fresh bread?