Arlington Community House needs repairs, but lacks funding to complete them

ARLINGTON -- Renovations to replace windows and siding on the wood-framed annex of Arlington Community House began this week, a year after extensive renovations were required to remove asbestos from the basement, steam pipes, roof, and siding of the building.

Built in 1829 in the center of Arlington, the Arlington Community House was made available for 27 organizations and 288 activities during 2013, according to a statement from Arlington Community Club president Ken Nicholson in Arlington's 2013 Town Report. Space is available for groups or individuals from Arlington, Sandgate, and Sunderland free of charge, although Nicholson noted that "donations are appreciated to help defray our utility costs."

"Our main function is as a community center," said board member Jean Freebern, who has extensive experience remodeling old homes in the area. "Any club or organization can call and ask to have a meeting there."

Freebern said the annex is primarily used by the Burdett Commons, a community organization that, among other things, promotes activities for local youths. In Nicholson's passage in the town report even refers to the annex as "The Burdett Wing," although other organizations are free to utilize the space as well.

While the House does receive a small amount of money from the town of Arlington, it is primarily funded through private donations. Stewart's in Arlington donated $1,000 last year, and Quadra-Tek surprised the board by donating $3,000 last winter. Most of those funds, said Freebern, went toward the asbestos removal. The siding on the annex had been missing since then, said Freebern. "We've just had Tyvek paper up since we removed the asbestos from the siding," she said. "We had the money to do that, but we didn't have the money to put the siding back on."

"The Arlington Community Club appreciates the support of the community, its citizens, local organizations, and businesses who have donated to help defray the cost of maintaining and improving the grand old building," said Nicholson. "Your generosity will allow us to move forward with needed improvements."

Freebern said that renovations have been moving very slowly, primarily because of lack of funds. She said that the House has been turned down for several grants, and income from two upstairs apartments is barely enough to cover the cost of heating the building. "We have to do it piecemeal," she said, "Because we just don't have the money."

The replacement of the windows on the annex was made possible by rK Miles Inc., of Manchester, which donated the windows necessary for that part of the building. However, Freebern said, "The whole brick portion really needs new windows also, they're just falling apart. That'll be the last thing we do."

Freebern said the organizations that take advantage of the community meeting space the house provides contribute as much as possible, but it often isn't enough for all the maintenance necessary to keep the old building running. "They try," she said, "but they don't have much money either. They give what they can, $100, or $200."

The board does not consider taking out a loan to be a viable option, said Freebern, so, "We try to appeal to our friends in the community as much as we can."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at

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