Not Restoration?

I wasn’t able to get to the Selectmen’s meeting, so my reaction to their discussion of a potential Brewster Hall warrant article was delayed until I could see the streaming video on the town website.  The Town Manager presented the three potential approaches, and although no official action was taken, the discussion suggests that they will be looking for something in the $250,000 range for repairs.  That would not be bonded, so the hit to the tax rate would be about 12½ cents, or about 1% (2.8% of the town portion).

It seems that aside from the dormer that is slowly falling off right over the front door, nobody had any idea exactly what kind of repairs they might do.  It was mentioned that the “ladies would like some new carpeting”.  No joke.

The chairman took some time to try to correct what she sees as a false impression that they are still looking at historic preservation.  I’m not sure what plans she has been looking at, but I have to disagree.  The latest $2.7 million plan calls for rebuilding 100 of the 120 total  windows with custom mahogany parts at great expense.  Clad replacement windows would be less expensive, more durable, and much more energy efficient.  The reason that has always been given is that these are “architecturally significant”.  How is that different from restoration?

Another misconception is that the state roof is in great shape and will last another 100 years. I doubt it, and right now they need to pull up areas to replace the copper flashing.  $late and copper $heets were the go-to materials 20 years after the civil war.  There are reasons why they are not used anymore:  Expensive, heavy, specialized labor, falling slates, falling ice and snow.  Alton’s town hall is the same vintage as ours.  No doubt it once had slate, but has been replaced with asphalt.  Did you ever notice it?  There are asphalt and other synthetic products available that look almost identical to slate, yet are inexpensive and can be applied and repaired by local roofers.  Take a look at the slate mansard roof repair underway just past Lydia’s.  They had to scaffold the building and have already been at it for a week.  The only reason to keep the slate is historic preservation.

The chairman no doubt believes they are not doing restoration, but it’s hard to imagine any project based on the original $6.8 million plans could be anything but.  The NCA plans that were “donated” to the town are the same plans with about 10% modifications.  By that I mean that many of the pages are exactly the same except for changing McGinley Kalsow to NCA.  Take a look an original and now the NCA.

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