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In October, work began on a major project to convert the property’s historic Old House, the main part of which dates to 1794, into the Appleton Farms Center for Agriculture and the Environment. The new facility will provide a public gateway to the property and serve as a home base for all of the farm’s programs.
This is not just a renovation, it’s a green-ovation. When complete, the Center will have earned LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, will be a net-zero-energy building (producing and using the same amount of energy), and will serve as a demonstration model for sustainable restoration. It’s not just the end product that has a green hue; 100 percent of the demolition and construction waste will be recycled or reused, both on and off the property. Some items are already seeing new life, says farm manager Wayne Castonguay: salvaged lumber is being used for shelving to hold educational materials, and unpainted plaster from the house will be composted, liming the soil. “Eventually,” says Castonguay, “bits of the house will be on every acre of the farm.”
It’s a major rehab, but it’s not the first time the house has been altered; a wing was added in 1872, and Castonguay says successive generations of the Appleton family gutted and rehabbed the house at least six times.
The current undertaking has been made possible by an incredible outpouring of support from donors. To date, $1.6 million of the $1.75 million project has been committed, including endowment funds. The Trustees have contracted with Allsopp Design of Hamilton, and have received Phase I approval for the planning, engineering, demolition, structural repairs, and exterior renovation.