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Wilder Center receives award for Preserving Vermont’s Architecture
Preservation Trust of Vermont honors the Center and David Clem at annual conference
June 13, 2012 – Wilmington, Vt. – On Friday, June 8, Wilder Center received an award for Outstanding Work in Preserving Vermont’s Architecture at the Preservation Trust of Vermont’s 2012 Preservation Awards Celebration during the 12th Annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference in Wilmington, VT.
Wilder Center is a former congregational church built in 1890 that was fully restored in 2010 by Lyme Properties, a Hanover, NH based real estate development company led by David Clem who was co-named on the Preservation Award. This meticulous restoration and adaptive reuse saved a neighborhood landmark that was perilously close to being destroyed, and the result is a modern event facility that pays homage to the rich history of the building and the surrounding village of Wilder, Vermont.
Wilder Center team at 2012 Preservation Awards Ceremony in Wilmington, VT
The Center is a "contributing building" to the Wilder Village Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The structure was in serious disrepair and dangerously close to collapse when Lyme Properties purchased the building in the summer of 2009. An architect who did a condition assessment on the building in 2008, observed, “…the bell tower is standing only by the memory that it once had nails!” Lyme facilitated a neighborhood planning process with Wilder residents which not only generated goodwill among the neighbors, it also allowed them to be meaningfully involved in the future use of the building.
Lyme preserved the original architectural character of the 5,000 square foot structure, while adding new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to meet modern building codes and life-safety requirements, and make the building energy efficient and cost-effective to operate. Minor additions were designed for the east and north sides of the existing building providing ADA access, legal egress, and code compliant restrooms. The 1840’s George Stevens pipe organ and the interior of the former church were completely repaired while retaining the original stained glass windows and wood floors. The 1928 Seth Thomas tower clock, and 1890 Meneely bell were all repaired and returned to operation, once again keeping time for the village of Wilder.
Wilder Center provides a contemporary example of how private investment in historical small-town buildings can achieve preservation goals, green and sustainable construction, and financial viability. The restoration sets an excellent example for small towns looking to preserve their historic churches and leverage preservation efforts to revitalize the entire community.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont is a statewide non-profit organization founded in 1980 whose mission is to help communities save and use historic places. Much of their focus is on strengthening downtowns, village centers, local initiatives, and capacity.