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Grange project meets milestone and half way point

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By ANDY KIRKALDY

FERRISBURGH — As the effort to build a duplicate Grange Hall on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh nears the half-way mark, the project is on schedule, on budget, and at the point where its interior — which when finished will hold town offices and meeting spaces for town boards and hearings, the community and Grange members — is taking shape.

Project manager Paul Wyncoop of Bread Loaf Corp., the Middlebury construction firm that is the general contractor for the $2.8 million project, said even winter weather has not caused any delays.

“It’s going well. Things are pretty much progressing on schedule,” Wyncoop said late last week. “It’s pretty much water-tight and weather-tight.”

Scott Dearborn, Bread Loaf’s onsite project superintendent, sounded even more optimistic about a project that began in early October, is now in the sheetrock phase and has a June occupancy date — although construction-veteran realism also cropped up in his assessment.

“The overall schedule that Paul did, we’re a couple weeks ahead,” Dearborn said. “But we’ll lose that somewhere. It just happens.”

Town Clerk Chet Hawkins, a regular visitor to the site, said he has been pleased with the quality of the work, as have others who have inspected the effort to build a historically accurate reproduction of the structure that burned in February 2005.

“The first thing that everybody who’s come in to tour the building has said is that the workmanship is first-rate,” Hawkins said during a stop at the site on Thursday.

Dearborn said virtually all of that workmanship is being provided by Vermont companies, and several subcontractors are local: Wildflower Ironworks in Addison, which is providing railings; Friend Construction of Bristol, which is putting asphalt roofing on the one-story addition to the rear; A. Johnson Lumber Co. of Bristol, which is providing flooring at a discount; and Ferrisburgh’s North Station Millwork, whose owner, Kurt Plank, has been involved since the fire.

Ferrisburgh Grange committee chairman Silas Towler said Plank helped salvage material immediately after the fire, and Dearborn said his company then won the bid to duplicate wooden trim pieces for the finished project.

Casella Inc. also donated portable toilets and waste bins, and the Addison County Solid Waste Management District agreed to waive tipping fees to help the town afford the project.

Trim is not the only material being re-used. Hawkins and Dearborn said other original elements in the finished project will include heating grates from the floor of the second-level meeting room, six interior doors, the decorative exterior medallion and the transom over the front entryway, the original tall side windows (which are now being restored in Brattleboro), and 15 exterior wooden eave brackets.

Other elements are being duplicated, including, for example, the stone walls that held in place the earth ramp leading up to the front entry and the decorative columns built into the side walls.

Duplicating those elements and others, like the interior trim, ensures historical accuracy and preserves crucial grant support. But that process also complicates the work, Wyncoop said.

For example, workers could not just simply frame in the south and north walls, but also had to calculate precisely where the columns would eventually be installed when doing so.

“The trick on this is to make sure that all the infrastructure we put in will work with the finishes,” Wyncoop said. “The challenge is to make sure this substructure which were going to put any of this ornamentation on, will work when we do put the ornamentation on.”

With the challenges, Break Loaf workers have also found some unusual rewards working on the Grange. Few of their projects have generated the same level of public interest and visits, Wyncoop said.

“People are really nice, very interested,” he said. “It’s been really positive energy.”

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