Restoration Planned for Historic North Bennington ‘Grapery’
The historic greenhouse located in Hiland Hall Gardens, next to North Bennington’s popular Mile Around Woods, will soon be restored under a plan now reaching its final stages. Built in 1905 by Trenor Park and his wife Laura, the graceful glass and brick building, once part of the Park-McCullough estate, is one of the few such structures still in use. Assembled from components designed by the famed firm of Lord and Burnham, the Grapery was originally used to start plants for the Estate’s 13 gardens. Over time it fell into disuse and decay, but grapes planted there in the early 1900s still remain productive. The Grapery has been used in recent years to start seeds for flower gardens, the community gardens and for the educational farm-to-school program, under the sponsorship of the Friends of Hiland Hall Gardens. In inclement weather, the Grapery also serves as a small classroom for that program. The Grapery is as purposeful today as it was a century ago, but now it feeds the community rather than one family. This jewel of a structure was last refurbished in the 1980s through the efforts of Master Gardener Maurice Kahn and then-owners by Bill and Babs Scott. Now owned by The Fund for North Bennington, a non-profit community organization, the Grapery requires new glass and wood framing and extensive masonry repair to extend its useful life. The reconstruction will include all new windows, energy-efficient lighting, a work sink, new gravel floor and replacement of the wooden frame. Upon completion, this splendid glass room will be available year-round for community use. Funded entirely by donations, approximately three-quarters of the $60,000 needed to complete the project have been raised by a matching grant and individual contributions. The organizing committee still needs to raise $15,000 to complete the Project, and is looking for individuals and companies to help with this effort. Jim Godine has agreed to serve as the general contractor for the project. Most of the work will be done by professional tradespeople, but volunteers will assist as appropriate. Renovation work is planned to begin in early April. The grapes currently growing up and through the numerous broken glass panes will be cut back – a normal process for grape growing – and rootstock will be harvested as a precaution. Gifts of any size in support of this project are welcome. People wishing to make a donation can do so via the Fund For North Bennington’s website at northbennington.org/donations or by sending a check to the Friends of Hiland Hall Gardens, Inc. at PO Box 21, North Bennington, VT 05257. Naming rights are still available, both on the building and on a small brick walkway. Check the Fund’s website at northbennington.org for ongoing updates on the project, before-and-after photos and much more.