By Trina Bianchi
Even though our entire world has turned upside down with COVID-19 and everything has either stopped, slowed down or totally changed, some things continue on their merry way. And at the Charlotte Grange, although our building is closed and we are not hosting any events, some things are still happening.
This week Grange members will be visiting all our local cemeteries and other local sites, honoring all the veterans who have served our country in various conflicts and are now resting forever within our town. The grave of each veteran will have a new American flag, the old one removed and properly disposed. Between Barber Cemetery, Grandview Cemetery, Morningside Cemetery and the cemetery at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, plus the various monuments, Grange members will replace close to 200 flags. Huge thanks to Cindi and Stuart Robinson, Ruah Swennerfelt and Louis Cox, Dorothy Hill, Dave Perrin, Margaret Woodruff, Jim Donovan and Mike Walker for their time in making sure the veterans of Charlotte are honored.
And now for the big news: As many of you know, we applied for a grant from the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation last October to repair and restore the interior of the eight large “schoolhouse” windows in the main room and to restore/rehabilitate the two main entry doors. This grant was for $12,000 and is a 50/50 grant, with the Grange paying $12,000 to complete the project and Historic Preservation then reimbursing the Grange $6,000 or half the amount spent. We have until September 2021 to complete this project. The original plan was to have the work done this summer and fall, giving us the time to have our spring rummage sale, fall rummage sale and at least one, if not two, big fundraising events during the summer so that we could raise the $12,000 necessary to pay for all of the work.
Needless to say, that plan had to change as we had no spring rummage sale and the fundraising events we had hoped to have this summer most likely will not happen. However, we are going to start the work anyway with the window part of the project and if necessary, secure a loan to cover the cost. The hope now is that we can raise enough money to have the doors done next summer, if not sooner.
Earlier this year we also applied for another one-time grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont to paint and repair the remaining three sides of the exterior of the building, and we were awarded that grant earlier this month. Again a 50/50 grant, this time for $20,000! Upon completion of the project, the Grange will be reimbursed $10,000, or half the amount spent. And the entire exterior of our little Grange Hall, including the cupola, will be completely repaired and painted.
And now for the challenge. When we applied for the second grant, we were in the beginning stages of planning for a couple of fundraising events and then COVID-19 entered the picture and put our fundraising plans into limbo, at least for now. Unfortunately, the Grange does not have that amount of cash in order to do the work, which is why we applied for the grants, knowing we would need to fundraise but would then be reimbursed half of the cost.
As Grange members, we love our little building, and we hope our community shares our belief that this historic building is worth saving. Obviously, we need your help. We know this is not a great time to be out asking for donations, but we are under a time crunch in order to take advantage of these two grants that we have been awarded. After three years of applying for a grant, we finally hit the jackpot, and it would be very disappointing if we couldn’t make use of the grants because we lacked the initial funding to get the work accomplished.
If you have questions or would like further information about our future plans for the Grange Hall….and yes, we do have long-term plans that include making a handicap-accessible bathroom…..please email or call Trina Bianchi at (802) 425-3691, or contact Margaret Woodruff, president, or reach her at the Charlotte Library.
Donations are tax deductible; we do acknowledge them with an appropriate letter upon receipt. Donations can be sent to Charlotte Grange, P.O. Box 54, Charlotte, VT 05445. We thank you in advance for considering the Charlotte Grange Building Fund as something you are willing to support.