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With 3,000 people participating in sessions each year, Montpelier's Center for the Constitution is growing
Montpelier is spending millions to restore and reuse
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By Rob Hedelt
Having gone from 20 people in their first year to 850 or so last year, Montpelier and the center are planning to expand what they refer to as their "Constitutional Village" just down the hill from the home.
Michael C. Quinn, president of The Montpelier Foundation, noted that the revitalization of the 20th-century William duPont Farm Complex that houses the Village and other departments began in 2002.
So far, 11 important buildings in the complex--seven residences, a schoolhouse, a brick carriage house and the large schooling barn--have been renovated and preserved at a cost of more than $3.5 million.
In early December, Montpelier announced more dramatic plans to restore and revitalize several other large barns in the complex, using them for an expanded teaching facility for the center.
Quinn noted that the plan will restore two structurally sound barns, and that work is now starting to save everything reusable from other barns that need to be taken down because of their poor condition.
"In all, it's a great way to reuse and restore these pieces of Montpelier's history," said Quinn.
O'Brien said plans call for the the restored barns to hold 32 new bedrooms, to add to the two dozen or so rooms now available in restored houses in the Village.
Plans also include four large classroom spaces, a complete cooking and dining facility, and staff offices.
"Right now, we can only hold one session at a time, and are fairly limited in the size of the group," said O'Brien.
With the new facility, which has an expected price tag of about $25 million for construction, an endowment and other costs, two sessions could be held simultaneously, with a larger number of participants.
The project and fundraising are expected to take several years, although preliminary planning on the new buildings has started and contracts to stabilize and salvage the barns are in place.
"We have sessions for teachers blocked out all summer, and groups from Asia and elsewhere coming in the spring," O'Brien said. "Our hope is to really become the premier Constitutional training facility in the country."montpelier.org
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415