The General Stannard House Committee has been awarded a $30,000 grant to restore the Civil War general’s historic home off Route 7.
“This gives us a really good shot in the arm to get a good chunk of the stabilization work done,” co-chairman Bill Kaigle said of the money.
The grant will be administered by the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation and was awarded at the Vermont Statehouse at the end of December.
Kaigle said the money will pay for demolishing the house’s adjoining garage that was added to the original building in the mid-20th century and has no historic value.
The removal of the garage, he said, is necessary before the property can be subdivided from its parent parcel, the large Gardener’s Supply lot, and ownership can be transferred to the town.
The money will also help pay for other stabilization work, he said, including replacing floor joists and subflooring on both floors, a support column in the basement, jacking up the building and adding roof framing and sheathing.
It will also pay for the removal and disposal of any materials, he said.
The beginning of any work, Kaigle said, is contingent on the approval of an Act 250 application, which is still waiting on a state wastewater permit application and a stormwater discharge permit amendment.
“We rely on people that are part of the process,” Kaigle said. “I’m ready any day; I’m just waiting impatiently.”
He said he hopes progress from here on out to be “more physically obvious.”
The grant money was initially set aside for a Vermont Civil War monument in Virginia that was never constructed. GSHC and Vermont author and historian Howard Coffin lobbied for the funds in 2017.
The grant is a match, meaning expenses will be sent to the state for reimbursement. Kaigle said the group, an offshoot of the Milton Historical Society, currently has about $23,000 in its coffers.
The house’s full restoration has been estimated to cost between $220-300,000, he said.
In 2016, Kaigle said the selectboard approached the committee about the possibility of moving the Stannard House to the five-acre Bombardier property recently acquired by the town, next to the town offices.
Kaigle said the committee “halted progress” to explore the concept. He said a move is still on the table, just not now, as the committee prefers to first complete Act 250 requirements and the property transfer.
“We’re not fully convinced on the move concept yet,” Kaigle said. “It’s worth still exploring at the appropriate time, and we don’t feel we are at that time yet.”
Kaigle said he wants to have the house open to visitors by 2020, Gen. George Stannard’s 200th birthday.
The GSHC hopes to acquire and borrow Civil War artifacts for the home, as well as display information about Stannard and his contribution to the war. The general is credited with stopping a key Confederate charge during the Civil War, potentially changing the outcome of Battle of Gettysburg and even the war.
After suffering an injury later in the war and having one of his arms amputated, Stannard moved to his Milton home, where he designed a house and barn to accommodate his disability.
Military history expert William McKone is currently spearheading an effort to get Stannard a posthumous medal of honor, which will be submitted to Sen. Patrick Leahy’s office and needs approval from Congress.
“This is really important stuff, and a lot of it’s overdue for this man,” Kaigle said.