LIVERMORE — A group of volunteers stepped forward in 2015 to preserve part of the town’s history, the Brettuns Community Building, after it became known that some residents wanted to demolish it.
The Church Street building, built over a century ago, is steeped in the city’s history. It all started as a two-class school. Besides its use by school children, various functions including town meetings and family gatherings were held here.
After the Primary School was built on Gibbs Mill Road in the 1960s, the town-owned building was no longer used as a school. The city stopped using it for town halls around 2008 because it didn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In 2015, a group of residents formed the Livermore Community Center Association to try to save the building and continue to use it. That year, with voter approval, the group began renting the building from the city for $1 a year for 99 years.
Among the members of the association are Tim Cox, Paul and Pat Lallemand, as well as Sandi and Rene Grondin. Sandi Grondin gathered information from members to answer questions from Journal du Soleil about the group’s work.
Why did you get involved in safeguarding and managing the centre? We originally got involved because the city’s budget committee suggested demolishing the building. When they talked about demolishing the old school in Livermore, built in 1915, we thought too many historic buildings had been lost, both in Livermore and in the surrounding towns. The building was solid and in good condition but was not handicapped accessible. The elected officials at the time suggested forming a committee to save the building, which we did. The school was active from approximately 1915 to 1973.
What did you have to do to get it ready for rental? First, we purchased liability insurance, which costs about $600 to $700 per year. So far we have added a handicapped ramp and a bathroom. When they were talking about tearing down the building instead of making it handicapped accessible, we were told it would cost at least $30,000 for the bathroom alone. We did it for under $1000. We refinished the floor and replastered the holes in the walls and painted the interior. It was a big job in itself and I spent many hours working on the building.
We insulated and ran a water line to the kitchen sink. Paid for blown insulation in walls and attic. Repaired and redone the roof of the building itself. Tables and chairs purchased; several tables were built by the group. I say “we”, but it was the combined efforts of many volunteers, ATV clubs, alumni and others that saved the building and kept it intact.
How do you raise your money to keep the place alive? We receive donations from various organizations and we rent the building for birthday parties, showers, meetings, craft fairs, etc. Cantonal mountain bike clubs. These three ATV clubs use the building to schedule meetups, potlucks, and the Livermore club meets there during riding season and donates money each year. Our rental rates are reasonable at $50 for Livermore residents and $75 for anyone out of town as we give Livermore residents a break. For all renters we require an additional deposit and if they follow our guidelines the deposit is returned. It is forbidden to smoke or consume alcoholic beverages in or near the building. Even during the pandemic, our rentals have remained constant.
Is it difficult to maintain the building? Since most of the work is done on a volunteer basis, we also ask for donations for any supplies needed, and usually local businesses are willing to give us a good deal on materials.
I heard you were going to need a new oven. What will you need to do to accomplish it? It will depend on the support we receive from the town and citizens of Livermore. We may have to raise the rental prices, but right now it’s a real bargain. We can try creating a Go Fund Me page for buying the furnace, oil tank, and expenses that come with such an expensive item.
At the annual municipal meeting on April 26, residents will be asked if they would be willing to donate $5,000 for the new furnace. If approved, the association will have to raise between $2,000 and $4,000 to carry out the project.
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