We welcome your gifts in support of this project. Please contact us to discuss our project needs and your interest.
DONATE with PayPal
Or mail your gift to: Townshend Historical Society,
POB 202, Townshend, VT 05353.
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.
The Follett Bridge on State Forest Road: Restoration complete 2020
The Stone Arch Bridge on State Forest Road was fully restored in June 2020. Certified Stonemason Michael Weitzner used dry stone masonry techniques similar to those used by James Otis Follett, the original builder. A lead grant of $ 7,000 from The Windham Foundation, another smaller grant, designated gifts, funds from Townshend’s Stone Arch Bridge Reserve, and in-kind gifts of labor and materials from the Town Highway Department, Townshend Cemetery Commission, and community members completed the $ 18,000 budget.
PROJECT UPDATES SPRING 2021
The West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge: Townshend voters approved an additional $ 50,000 by Australian Ballot on March Town Meeting Day.
This most recent appropriation brings the total raised for the project to $ 220,343 ($188,000 committed by Town voters and $ 32,343 in gifts raised by THS.) How much the original project estimate of $ 283,000 will increase after an update and review by Certified Stonemason Michael Weisner, remains unknown at this time. It is likely that project expenses going forward will be divided into three areas: 1) restoration of the bridge itself 2) grading, draining, and repaving the surface and 3) purchasing and installing parapets/guardrails. The filing of a VTRANS Small Structures Grant application by the Town for the West Townshend Stone Arch Bridge has been tabled for the foreseeable future in lieu of the Town’s using that grant to fund other emergency road projects.
USDA Rural Business Development Grant: Work continues
In 2020, Townshend Historical Society was awarded a $ 16,640 USDA Rural Business Development Enterprise Grant to partially support its “Mapping, Marketing, & Interpreting of Townshend’s Historic Bridges” project. The goal is to stimulate local business and create jobs through interpretative signage, digital advertising, and an enhanced THS website. It is hoped the project will stimulate pride in Townshend’s history, build community spirit, and improve the quality of Townshend’s rural life and economy. Toward these ends, THS has used grant funds to retain a professional marketing firm, SIX, Inc. based in Saratoga, NY.
In February, SIX Inc., working with THS, completed the interpretive signage designs and placed the order for info boards for all seven bridges. The VT Division for Historic Preservation agreed to purchase an additional Scott Bridge info board, so that one can be placed at each end of the bridge. Charles Marchant and Robert DuGrenier of the THS Board and Steven Frisk, Townshend Selectman and Road Commissioner, have visited the bridges and chosen the location for each sign. The signboards are expected to be ready by the end of April. THS and the Townshend Highway Department will install them when the ground is workable.
On-going work by SIX during the winter and early spring also focused on expanding the THS website to accommodate information on the bridges. Some of this will be instantly accessible to bridge visitors via QR Codes on the signage. For example, scanning one QR Code with a smart phone will link to a printable map of all the bridges or, scanning another, to a full biography of Stone Arch Bridge builder James Otis Follett.
Digital advertising campaigns, that began last fall with ads supported by a Google Grant secured for THS by SIX, will expand and continue through July 31, 2021, the end of the grant period. The campaign will target cultural tourists, encouraging them to visit Townshend and its historic bridges.