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Guilford groups leverage $400K to transform historic Grange Hall into community center


Press Release as seen in

GUILFORD, VT–Exciting things are happening in Guilford Center, and on Sunday, October 22, from 3-5 p.m., the townspeople of Guilford and beyond are invited to hear all about it. Broad Brook Community Center Inc. is hosting an Apple Pie Social at the Broad Brook Grange, and the community is invited to share apple pie and ice cream, and contribute ideas to give the historic Grange Hall a vigorous future, creating a vibrant hub designed to serve everyone in Guilford.

The idea to revamp the Grange Hall took shape at a town-wide Community Visit Process in late 2013. During the visits, facilitated by the Vermont Council of Rural Development, a groundswell of community interest supported redeveloping the historic hall as a community hub. The task force that came after evolved into the formation of Broad Brook Community Center Inc. (BBCC) — a 501(c)3 organization specifically aiming to renovate, extend the life, and expand accessibility and use of the hall.

Over the past two years, the Broad Brook Grange and BBCC have been working to find a way to allow the new non-profit to purchase the building so it can raise funds for the rehabilitation and restoration of the historic hall, while ensuring that the local Grange organization continues to have a permanent home. The process, which includes approval from the Vermont State Grange and must meet criteria set by the National Grange, has now concluded with agreements reached and paperwork in process.

“The stage is set for our hall to get a new lease on life,” said Bobbie Fitch Haumann, Master of Broad Brook Grange, explaining that on Saturday, September 23, members of Broad Brook Grange held a special meeting and voted unanimously to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to sell the building to Broad Brook Community Center.

“I grew up in a Grange family. My father, Bill Fitch, always wanted Broad Brook Grange to prosper. He would be so pleased about this agreement with the BBCC. This partnership between the Grange and the Broad Brook Community Center ensures a strong community center for now and for generations to come.” Pending approval from the Vermont State Grange, the sale and transfer of the building will go through in early 2018.

“This has been truly a collaborative process resulting in a wonderful community partnership that will benefit the Guilford community,” said Sara Coffey, Board President of the BBCC. The rehabilitation project, estimated to cost $1 million, will address accessibility and public safety issues, and restore the hall into a vibrant community hub with social, civic, cultural, educational and recreational activities that will serve youth, adults and seniors.

In order to get to this point, a campaign feasibility study was undertaken, building needs assessments and plans for renovations were created, and partnerships with other groups for future programming and activities were developed.

And, as with any big non-profit building project, fundraising is a major focus, with, as Coffey reports, “heartening progress to date.”

“We received a $250,000 challenge from an anonymous donor,” said Coffey. “In addition, we recently received news of an award of tax credits from Vermont’s Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit Program. Receiving a competitive award and large gift have brought real momentum to our campaign. We hope they will motivate the community to help us match this with a $400,000 challenge, taking us to 80% of our goal.”

“We hope for a big turnout on October 22 to hear creative and innovative program ideas – how can Guilford put this refurbished hall to best use? We need voices in our town to help us realize the vision to restore the Grange Hall as a vibrant and inclusive center for all in our community,” Haumann added.