ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, the Rockingham Selectboard met for their regular meeting at the Rockingham Meeting House (RMH).
Built in 1787, the Rockingham Meeting House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has hosted church services, meetings, and concerts through the centuries. Walter Wallace, Coordinator of the Rockingham Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), gave a tour of the RMH grounds before the meeting was called to order.
Wallace highlighted the work completed by local republican committee volunteers in exchange for hosting their candidate forums in the RMH. He said the volunteers had saved the RMH Association upwards of $18,000 by clearing brush and repairing fences and the hearse shed.
School Board member and organizer Bill Morse showed the repaired hinge to the hearse shed door. Wallace said it was the “first time in five years” they could close the door and fasten it for the winter to protect the hearse and prevent future rodent damage. He mentioned that some of the artifacts stored in the shed were historic clapboards, painted in original red.
Wallace quoted the late Paul Bruhn, a leader in Vermont Preservation who said, “Historic preservation is a team sport.”
Charlie Jarras has been working with Marsha Divoll, a descendant of George Divoll, who died in Minnesota in 1882, and has agreed to fund the nearly $23,000 project to restore the Divoll plot and stones. At the Pilgrimage on Sunday, Aug. 7, Jarras met with the Lovell and Severance families, who were also interested in getting involved with the restoration of their family plots.
At 6:22 p.m., Chair Peter Golec called the meeting to order, and roughly twenty attendees found their seats in the pigpen pews. Two items on the agenda were to Award the Historic Structures Report contract and an update to the Cemetery Committee proposal. Wallace explained that of the thirteen Requests for Proposals sent, four firms bid. One of those bids came from professionals that had restored both the White House and Monticello. Fox, Pickup, Leppman, and Wallace recommended the team of Lyssa Papazian, Lazarus Scangas, and Robert Neeld for $56,096. The selectboard voted unanimously to award the contract.
Wallace said that five years ago, on Memorial Day, a veteran had complained of the fallen and leaning headstones. He said he had been working since then to find solutions and secure the funding. Wallace and the HPC requested that the selectboard approve the Graveyard & Historic Landscape Advisory Committee, naming Jarras, Karen Jarret, Jim Mullen, Cass Wright, Stan Telstra, and Diana Jones as members.
Chair Peter Golec suggested that the committee first hold a meeting to establish, in writing, what they plan on doing and how they will accomplish those tasks.
As twilight descended, signaling the end of the meeting, Board member Elijah Zimmer suggested the board consider hosting all summer meetings at the Meeting House. This would encourage increased participation in a place that emanates the spirit of a true town meeting. The RMH offers free tours and is open daily from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. through Indigenous People’s Day. Visit www.rockinghamvt.org/historic-preservation-commission for more details.
The next regular meeting of the Rockingham Select Board is Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 at 6 p.m. in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House where Vanasse Hangen Brustlin will present the preliminary final design of the Depot Street Bridge. All residents and property owners are invited to attend.