Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Giving voice

Brattleboro Town Arts Committee gives space for Brooks

Project Project coordinators have initiated several social media initiatives for people to continue and add to the conversation:


Facebook page:

Flickr public group:

BRATTLEBORO—The images rose like ghosts from the burned building’s brick walls above Main Street.

During Gallery Walk on May 6, Kate Anderson, Robert (Mark) Burke, and Timberly Hund projected photos from the Hooker-Dunham Building offices of Brand Pandemic and Mondo Mediaworks, three stories above Main Street

The photos grew in form, structure, and color as Friday turned to night: Brooks House presiding over carriage-filled streets, women in long dresses, the building’s name plate, flames swallowing the roof.

People enjoying Gallery Walk stopped, watched, and leaned over to whisper to each other.

A five-alarm fire on April 17 tore through the 1871 Brooks House, displacing 60 residents and 10 businesses. Owner Jonathan Chase has had Brooks House in his family for 40 years. He has pledged to rebuild.

The projected photos of Brooks House were the first part of the Brattleboro Town Arts Committee’s multi-phase Project Project.

As in Project (verb) and Project (noun).

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for the community to voice feelings about Brooks House, the town, and community in this unsettled time,” said Anderson.

Anderson chairs the Brattleboro Town Arts Committee and helped conceive Project.

Project Project (a temporary name according to Anderson) took off a week ago after a meeting between committee members, community leaders, and Chase, said Anderson.

Although the project is still in its infancy, Anderson anticipates that it will evolve to include creative contributions from all sectors of the local arts community.

She envisions writers documenting the experiences of residents and business owners displaced by the fire. She’s working with Bob Stevens, of Stevens & Associates P.C., about finding space for performing artists to hold shows in the Brooks House windows.

Anderson is also talking with musicians about holding concerts in the tunnel leading from High Street to the Harmony Parking lot.

The project will last one to two months.

By sparking discussion, Anderson hopes the creative output will help the community process their emotions about the fire at the Brooks House. But she also hopes the community will start to dream and help construct the building’s future.

“While the original idea had popped into my head, in no way on this earth could it have gotten any further without Robert (Mark) Burke’s help to get it to gel, and then the entire Working Group all contributed very much,” said Anderson. “It wouldn’t be right to make it sound like it was Kate and helpers.... It was a collaborative effort, through and through.”

Anderson said they chose photos to represent the building’s past, the fire, the fire’s aftermath and the building whole again.

“Because that’s what will happen,” she said of the planned rebuilding of Brooks House.

Like what we do? Help us keep doing it!

We rely on the donations and financial support of our readers to help make The Commons available to all. Please join us today.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.


We are currently reconfiguring our comments software. Please check back if you’d like to read or leave comments on this story. —The editors

Originally published in The Commons issue #100 (Wednesday, May 11, 2011).

Related stories

More by Olga Peters