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Letter: Help Preserve Hartford’s Schoolhouse

To the Editor:

Last January, the Valley News featured the drive to preserve the vintage one-room schoolhouse in Hartford’s Jericho Rural Historic District. Fund-raising began in December and continues in coordination with the Hartford Historical Society and the Hartford Historic Preservation Commission.

The building is believed to be the only former schoolhouse in the town of Hartford that has been preserved in its original form. It remains a site of beauty and historic interest for the town of Hartford and greater Upper Valley community. It is used for special events and meetings, and is also a Valley Quest Visit Site. The building has been totally maintained by Jericho Community Club volunteers, who have painted, replaced the roof, maintained the grounds and provided other services.

However, this treasured 1849 landmark is now threatened by a crumbling foundation, flaking lead-based paint and window grout, and a toppled stone fence that is largely invisible. The task of preservation has surpassed the capacity of volunteers. The need for “heavy lifting” to maintain the building will focus first on stabilizing the foundation. A poured concrete footing with replacement of the rough-hewn granite slabs to restore the original appearance will cost an estimated $18,000 to $24,000.

A fund has been established by the Hartford Historical Society to receive tax-deductible gifts that has, thanks to the vision and generosity of Jericho Community Club members and the larger community, received donations totaling $15,640 to date. We have come a long way toward reaching our goal but remain short of funds needed to commence foundation work this summer. Members of the larger Upper Valley community are invited to share the challenge of historic preservation by sending tax-deductible donations to: Jericho Schoolhouse Project, c/o Hartford Historical Society, P.O. Box 547, Hartford, Vt. 05047-0547.

Leo R. Zacharski

White River Junction