The DNRT Center at Helfand Farm…It’s Rising

DSC_04852016-01-02 IMG_17802016-01-16 DSC_0447DSC_0488

February 1, 2016

We’ve seen dramatic progress already on the construction of DNRT’s new headquarters at 318 Chase Road, thanks to the efforts of our Building Committee, and thanks to the nearly 200 donors whose generosity and support helped us kick-start this project. Although we’re approaching our fundraising goal, we’re hopeful that those of who haven’t yet responded will join us on our Pathways Campaign, which supports both the new building and future land projects.

We held a groundbreaking ceremony December 8, 2015 as foundations were poured, and framing began the following week. With the blessing of mild weather, builder Lars Olson and his crew worked steadily through the holiday period, and exterior wall sections and roofs were completed by New Year’s Day. The barn foundation was poured a few days later, as carpenters completed interior and exterior wall framing for the new office addition and conference wing. By mid-January, the new building and barn had finished roofs, and windows are now being installed.

The rehabilitation of the Helfand farmhouse has progressed at the same time. After removing vinyl siding and unusable material, the building has been gently lifted about 2” to enable replacement of its sills and subfloor framing. Our builders are accomplishing this work with sensitivity and care, to minimize the stress on the building’s two-century-year-old walls, floors and rafters. Door and window trim, fireplaces, stairway and other historic features are being retained to preserve the integrity and character of the interior space.

Of course, all historic rehabilitation projects have challenges. And for our project, the first was a high water table at the site. Our architect, Will Saltonstall, with Lars, made changes to ensure proper drainage and moisture prevention in both the farmhouse and new construction. The original granite under the farmhouse is sturdy and intact, but the basement had to be lowered to allow a new gravel base, enhanced drainage, along with a waterproof membrane. We also decided to replace the entire farmhouse understructure with new sills, framing and support columns because of the extremely deteriorated condition beneath the farmhouse.

Looking ahead, we are optimistic that the building’s interior will be finished over the winter. Our Building Committee is working on additional details to complete this exciting next step for DNRT. And because DNRT is committed to having a minimal environmental impact, we are researching photovoltaic electric energy systems to power the Center’s heating, cooling and office equipment needs.

That’s the update for now…

Clif Rice, DNRT Board President