Simon Pearce eyes historic Quechee buildings for possible demolition or reconstruction
When people hear the name Simon Pearce, they think of the elegant glassworks and restaurant housed in a renovated brick mill building along the cascading waters of the Ottauquechee River.
But that footprint may expand to include demolition or renovation of three historic buildings across Main Street from the glassworks, according to town records.
The Tinkham buildings now include an antiques store, gallery and apartments housing Simon Pearce employees. Earlier this summer, Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Jonathan Schechtman and town Zoning Administrator Jo-Ann Ells and participated in a site visit with Simon Pearce representatives "to determine their options," according to minutes of the June 20 historic commission meeting.
The minutes said Simon Pearce is "considering possible demolition and reconstruction to meet the needs of the company." Historic commissioners remain "hopeful that demolition can be avoided or limited."
Valley News staff writer Matt Hongoltz-Hetling first reported on the possible loss of, or changes to, buildings that are part of the Quechee Historic Mill District. Past occupants of the structures included Tinkham's General Store (1875), the Scott Tinkham House (1880), and the current Robert James Walsh & Co. antique and arts store.
Antique store owner Robert Walsh told the newspaper he had heard nothing of the plan. "It's a surprise to me."
The Tinkham buildings are wood-framed structures, with clapboard siding and white paint that is chapped and peeling. A large construction dumpster sits out front. Around back, a resident answer the door declined to give her name but said her husband and other Simon Pearce workers and their families occupy the rental units.
In response to questions from the Valley News, Simon Pearce issued a statement saying: "Simon Pearce's interest is to continue to support the Quechee community in maintaining and improving the village that has been influential in the lives of so many of our employees, their families and our customers. We will continue to have discussions with the town and QLLA (the Quechee Lakes Landowners Association) as we explore opportunities to further this mission."