Granville Then & Now – Removal of Church Street buildings allows improved view of Mettowee

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

The closing of the Church Street crossing of the Mettowee River was delayed on Monday, to give time for Verizon to move its utility lines. The bridge will then be closed. Due to the delay, the project completion timetable has shifted to mid-October. The new bridge will be an arch bridge, with a similar appearance to the present, soon-to-be-removed bridge. The new bridge will not have a sidewalk on its east side. At the completion of the Church Street bridge replacement project, Granville will have a modern bridge crossing of the Mettowee River that will last for many years.

Covered signs were placed on Monday by Washington County in several important places in and around the village. When the bridge is closed, the signs will be revealed. Most of the signs will warn that the Church Street bridge is closed, although some will have the signed detour.

The long anticipated demolition of the 34 Church Street building occurred last Monday, June 7. Demolition work started after 8 a.m., and the building was reduced to a pile of rubble and used lumber by 10:30 a.m. The pile was cleared away on Tuesday. By Friday, the cellar hole of the building had been filled in, and the foundation dismantled.

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Paving road work is ongoing in this area. The paving of Route 149 west of Fort Ann and in the Village of Granville excepting Main Street has concluded. Work is still ongoing for the section between Route 4 in Kingsbury and Route 40 in Hartford.

Vermont’s Agency of Transportation also has begun paving projects. Two sections of Route 149 in Vermont were paved last week, with the exception of the wide shoulder section near Newmont Slate. Route 30 was paved last week from Blossom’s Corners through Wells to a point near Wellsmere Farm, where the speed limit changes to 50 mph north of that spot. There were patches made a couple of years ago on Route 149, which had uneven bumps at the transition to the patch pavement; this has been fixed with the new pavement. The only other paving project in Vermont near the Granville area is the paving of the exit and entrance ramps on the Route 4 freeway between Fair Haven and Rutland.

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The removal of the 34 Church Street bridge cleared the last of the buildings that were between Water Street and the Mettowee River. The longhouses and other buildings on the west part of Water Street and lower River Street were removed in the late 1980s, and the west end of the street eventually became the site of the Slate Valley Museum.

The 3 and 7 Water Street buildings were demolished in early 2020. The 1 Water Street building that was at the corner of Church Street and Water Street, along with the 5 Water Street building that was located between the two buildings demolished last year, was demolished before 2000.

The appearance of this part of the village has changed dramatically since the 1980s. Most of the demolished buildings on Water Street, including the three demolished in the past couple of years, were run-down and in a deteriorated condition. The removal of the buildings now allows for an improved view of the Mettowee River.

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The outlook of the pandemic has improved in the recent weeks. Restrictions were relaxed last month in both New York and Vermont. Vermont has set a goal of 80% vaccinated before lifting all restrictions, and from reports is near the “finish line” of getting to 80%. New York has not set an equivalent goal at this time, but progress is being made in that direction. Even New York City, which was badly affected has begun to reopen bars and restaurants and other venues.

In the Granville area, the march back to normalcy is ongoing as well. Confidence can be seen in new businesses planning or preparing to open, and presently operating businesses expanding their open hours. While expanding hours for the summer time was common in past years, the impact of the pandemic shutdowns and restrictions last year meant that hours were curtailed when the restrictions began, and those businesses that stayed open usually did not expand hours.

Granville’s famed Christmas decorative lights were turned back on after the Christmas holiday season in March 2020 as a symbol of solidarity during the early days of the pandemic. Excepting the occasional power outage, the lights were on from March 2020 through February 2021. Since then, some buildings have had their decorative lights turned off, and this process has continued until now, where most of the building decorative lights have been turned off.

The choice to turn off or keep the lights on was at the discretion of the building owners. Nevertheless, the turning off of the decorative building lights and businesses opening or expanding hours are signs that Granville – and everywhere – is coming back from the pandemic. May the rest of the year 2021 be busy and successful for the Granville area.