Norwich: Historic and Sustainable

Norwich’s advisory Historic Preservation Commission (NHPC) was appointed by the Selectboard in April 2010.   The Commission’s goal is to increase appreciation of Norwich’s wealth of historic and cultural resources.   These are essential to our town’s unique sense of place and character, including preserving Norwich’s settlement patterns, scenic resources and our unique rural character. Integral to this is contributing to Norwich’s energy and economic sustainability.

The Selectboard passed an ordinance in 2010,  officially establishing the town’s first Historic Preservation Commission, which is advisory only.  Norwich is now one of 14 Certified Local Governments throughout the state designated by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.  A goal of the CLG program is to encourage full integration of historic resources into the Town’s planning process. CLG status also makes the town eligible for federal and state preservation grants, while also providing a close working relationship with the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

Norwich’s Commission believes that:

  • Norwich’s iconic town center is the focal point for the broader town, including its rural character and scenic resources. Our town center results from 250 years of town settlement, construction, and preservation of distinctive homes, public buildings, places of worship and commercial buildings.
  • Long-time residents have protected these qualities while more recent residents have chosen to live in Norwich, in part, because of its sense of place and character. These qualities thus contribute to Norwich’s vigorous town center and strong property values.
  • Good stewardship supports our local and regional economy with the use of local products and services in maintaining historic properties.
  • Using and re-using historic buildings with appropriate retrofitting saves energy and thus contributes to sustainability.
  • Preserving and using historic structures is a natural complement to land conservation and essential to protecting our rural character.

To date, the Commission has:

  • With the Norwich Business Council and Norwich Inn, hosted a coffee and informational meeting for all commercial property owners in the Designated Village Center.  Presentations focused on state tax credits and pro-active maintenance of historic properties.
  • Provided information to property owners and potential developers regarding the detrimental effects of vinyl siding on the environment and local purchasing, and on tax credits available for substantial rehabilitations of historic commercial buildings.
  • In partnership with the Norwich Historical Society, developed, printed, and is distributing a walking tour brochure of Norwich’s historic village center.  This easy-to-use brochure, with map, historic photos, and engaging text is available at Norwich locations and selected Vermont Welcome Centers.  The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Dartmouth Printing, and Preservation Trust of Vermont provided key support.
  • Submitted suggestions to the Town regarding the draft Town Plan of Norwich, many of which were incorporated.
  • Prepared successful nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for Norwich’s two historic one-room schoolhouses: the Beaver Meadow School House and the Root School House. The school house received historic status in 2013. See also the Norwich Village District and Beaver Meadow Union Chapel
  • Developed in partnership with NHS the Norwich Farms exhibit, audio interviews, and video.
  • Conducted, with a qualified consultant, the Norwich Windshield Survey, completed February 8, 2016, which provides brief information and photos for historic properties throughout the Town of Norwich. The Norwich Planning Department has this survey in electronic form so that information can be checked for properties with which the Planning Department is dealing.
  • Pursuant to recommendation of the Windshield Survey: achieved listing of Norwich’s Mid-Century Modern District (Pine Tree, Spring Pond & Hopson roads) on the National Register of Historic Places (online exhibit). NHPC is also actively working to nominate to the National Register: the Goodrich Four Corners agricultural district, Maple Hill Farm, Brigham Hill District, and Meeting House Farm. NHPC is also developing a Multi-Property listing as an umbrella for all Mid-Century Modern structures in Norwich to use in seeking listing on the National Register. Also pursuant to the Survey, NHPC has completed the Pompanoosuc & Pattersonville Archaeological Resources Assessment.
  • Continues to serve as a resource for Norwich homeowners and businesses regarding historic preservation issues.

Historic Preservation Commission members are:

  • Bill Aldrich
  • Peter Brink, Vice-Chair
  • Deborah Brien
  • Cheryl Hermann
  • Nancy Osgood
  • Anne Silberfarb
  • Roger Blake, Advisory
  • Roderick Francis, Town Planning & Zoning Director, provides support.
  • The position of Chair has been held vacant since the untimely death of founding Chair, Nancy Hoggson.