The Gen. Stannard house will have a new roof this year if the committee charged with saving the historic Route 7 structure can raise $20,000 before snow flies.
The General Stannard House Committee is officially formed and is in full fundraising mode, Co-Chairman Bill Kaigle said last week.
The group has already received its first $1,000 toward the effort to restore the dilapidated white cottage that was once home to Gen. George Stannard, Vermont’s most famed Civil War soldier credited with stopping a key Confederate charge.
The entire project could cost up to $279,000, an estimate says.
The first $500 was a product of a newly formed fiscal agreement with the Milton Historical Society, of which Kaigle is vice president. Because the society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it can apply for grants on the committee’s behalf, he said.
The money serves as a startup loan for a sign announcing the effort. It reads “Help Save My House!” and is placed on the front lawn. The funds also helped build a website to spread the word, which is live at www.generalstannardhouse.org. It will be repaid by January 1, Kaigle said.
The second check came from an anonymous donor the day after Kaigle installed the sign. The timing was just coincidence, the donor told the Milton Independent, but the sentiment was the same.
“We feel it’s a very worthwhile project,” the donor said. “Milton doesn’t have that much history that it can put on display, and anything we can do to put a good face out there seems like the right thing to be doing.
“It looked like somebody really had their act in gear,” the donor said of the committee. “You don’t just want to throw money at somebody’s pipe dream.”
If the donors had their way, though, they’d want to see the house become a coffee shop, perfect for commuters, they said.
The committee itself hasn’t determined the desired end-use for the structure, which is listed on Vermont Historic Register. Ideas include a welcome center, art gallery, meeting space and more. The main goal is to honor Stannard, the committee’s mission statement says.
Though the state Division for Historic Preservation OK’d the initial structural fixes, the office seems to disagree with the house’s overall significance, an Aug. 12 letter says.
In reviewing the committee’s request via the Act 250 process, State Historic Preservation Officer Laura Trieschmann said the house doesn’t necessarily represent Stannard’s Civil War contributions, particularly if other properties from his “productive years” survive. She suggested further research to better establish the home’s stature.
Kaigle fears this could affect the committee’s quest for grant money but said their researcher, Terry Richards, is delving deep to bolster Stannard’s reputation to grantors.
But first, the roof. It’s in “catastrophic” shape and if left as-is, could lead to the building’s – and project’s – downfall, a May conditions report by engineer Scott Newman said. The hope is to install a temporary fix as soon as possible.
“This step is historic preservation-minded, but it’s more rescue-minded,” Kaigle said, noting the group will reach out to contractors to get better estimates.
“It would have been nice to be here two months ago,” he continued, “but I think we’re just unwavering. We want to just keep going and full steam ahead, putting as much as we can into it.”
Helping the cause
Think Gen. George Stannard’s House deserves saving? A committee is trying to raise the first $20,000 this fall to replace the home’s roof.
Donate to the cause at www.generalstannardhouse.org/donate.html by making a secure payment via PayPal, or download a gift reply form to mail to:
General Stannard House Fund
c/o Milton Historical Society
13 School St.
Milton, VT 05468
All gifts are tax deductible.
So does August Cyr, who, as a grade-schooler, attempted to save the house for a school project and was stymied by concerns over lead paint. She and two classmates skipped recess to research the house and even met with then-building owner, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp in Catamount Park, to talk about saving it.
Despite the road ahead, “I still want to save this house,” Cyr, now 20, said. She now serves as the committee’s communications coordinator.
A self-proclaimed history buff, Cyr thinks the house is important on a national scale, comparing it to sites like President Abraham Lincoln’s house that visitors can tour and appreciate.
“This is our Lincoln’s house,” she said. “This is what we should be recognized for. Not the bad things.
“Everyone in the community wants Milton to look good, and I think this is a way to do that,” she continued.
Kaigle said the committee will promote its fundraising efforts with fliers and brochures, online postings on Front Porch Forum and Facebook and at events like the upcoming St. Albans Raid celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the northernmost Civil War battle.
The group also brought a stand up cutout of the general to Milton’s Community Activities Fair on Tuesday night, letting townspeople take photos with Stannard to post online.
“There’s only so much we can do, but it’s up to the community whether they want to save this house,” Cyr said.
And fast, Kaigle added.
“It’s really urgent,” he said. “If you’re thinking about helping out with this, don’t delay to help us get there.”
The Stannard House Committee meets every Tuesday, though times vary. Contact email@example.com to be added to the email update list.