Townshend Historical Society’s Stone Arch Bridge Preservation Project

We welcome your gifts in support of this project. Please contact us to discuss our project needs and your interest.

Gifts may be mailed to:

Townshend Historical Society,

POB 202, Townshend, VT 05353.

Project Background

In late 2017, the THS Board took on a significant multi-year project to raise $410,000 for preservation of Townshend’s six 100+ year-old stone arch bridges. An initial grant in 2018 from The Preservation Trust of Vermont’s Sincerbeaux Fund provided six $500 matching grants to underwrite a Conditions Assessment of each of Townshend’s Stone Arch Bridges by Certified Stonemason Michael Weitzner.  Using the findings summarized in Weitzner’s Conditions Assessment Report (Spring 2018) and his estimates for costs of restoration, THS, with the support of the Town of Townshend which owns the bridges, has been working to raise funds for the project.

FALL 2020 Project Update

The Follett Bridge on State Forest Road: Restoration complete 2020

THS joins with the community in celebrating the successful completion of this first phase of the Stone Arch Bridge Preservation Project. At the end of October 2019, The Windham Foundation awarded THS a lead grant of $ 7,000 toward the $18,000 budget for the restoration of The Follett Bridge on State Forest Road.  Additional designated gifts, another smaller grant, funds from the Town’s Stone Arch Bridge Reserve, and in-kind gifts of labor and materials from the Townshend Highway Department, Townshend Cemetery Commission, and community members completed the budget. In early June of this year, Certified Stone Mason Michael Weitzner, using dry stone masonry techniques similar to those used by the original builder James Otis Follett, started the restoration. By the end of the month his work was complete.

The West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge: Fundraising continues

While work on the Follett Bridge on State Forest Road progressed, THS also continued to focus on raising funds to preserve the endangered and still-travelled-upon West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge. Emergency repairs in the Fall 2018 have served to buy some time for the ailing structure.  $164,900 of an estimated $283,000 budget has been secured to date. The committed funds include $ 26,900 in designated gifts, as well as tax dollars totaling $ 138,000 voted at Townshend Town Meetings in 2018 and 2019.  Application has been made by the Town for a significant 2020 VTRANS Small Structures Grant which could, if awarded in full, complete the budget. Due to the pandemic, however, the budget for these State grants remains uncertain. Since the preservation work on this bridge must all be done at the same time, the total budget must be ensured before work can start. THS has requested an update on costs.

USDA awards THS a Rural Business Development Grant in July 2020

Townshend Historical Society (THS) has been awarded a $ 16,640 USDA Rural Business Development Grant to partially support its “Mapping, Marketing, & Interpreting of Townshend’s Historic Bridges.”  The goal is: to interpret Townshend’s six Stone Arch Bridges and The Scott Covered Bridge using signage and wayfinding, to spread the story of these historic treasures far and wide using digital means, to bring growing numbers of cultural tourists to our area and, over time, to contribute to the growth of local rural businesses, creating jobs. It also promises to stimulate pride in Townshend’s history, to build community spirit, and to improve the quality of Townshend’s rural life and economy. The project budget allows THS to hire a well-recommended professional marketing firm, SIX, Inc., based in Saratoga, NY, to assist with design and implementation of interpretive signage and wayfinding and digital marketing strategies, expansion of the THS website to add interactive historical resources about the bridges, and to provide marketing services.  Board Members Robert DuGrenier, Vice President, and Treasurer Lee Petty will donate their services in-kind as Project Manager and Grant/Financial Manager, respectively.