Paul Litalien, left, and Rene Grondin, both of Livermore, patch and paint walls at the Brettuns Community Building in Livermore. Submitted photo

LIVERMORE — A group of volunteers stepped forward in 2015 to preserve a part of the town’s history, the Brettuns Community Building, after it became known some residents wanted to tear it down.

The building on Church Street, built over a century ago, is steeped in town history. It started as a two-classroom school. Besides its use by schoolchildren, a variety of functions including town meetings and family gatherings were held there.

After the elementary school on Gibbs Mill Road was built in the 1960s, the town-owned building was no longer used as a school. The town stopped using it for town meetings around 2008 because it did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 2015, a group of residents formed the Livermore Community Center Association to try and save the building and continue its use. That year, with voter approval, the group began leasing the building from the town for $1 a year for 99 years.

Among the members of the association are Tim Cox, Paul and Pat Litalien, and Sandi and Rene Grondin. Sandi Grondin gathered information from members to answer questions for the Sun Journal on the group’s work.

Tim Cox and Paul Litalien, members of the Livermore Community Center Association, push a new sign into place on the lawn of the Brettuns Community Center in Livermore. The sign was donated by Brian Newall. Submitted photo

Why did you get involved in trying to save and run the center? We originally became involved because the town budget committee suggested tearing the building down. When they talked about tearing down the former Livermore school, built in 1915, we thought that too many historic buildings have been lost, both in Livermore and surrounding towns. The building was solid and in good condition but wasn’t handicap accessible. The selectmen at the time suggested forming a committee to save the building, so we did. The school was active from about 1915 to 1973.

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What did you have to do to get it ready for renting? First, we obtained liability insurance, which runs around $600 to $700 each year. So far, we have added a handicap ramp and bathroom. When they were discussing tearing down the building instead of making it handicap accessible – we were told it would cost at least $30,000 for the bathroom alone. We did it for under $1,000. We refinished the floor and replastered the holes in the walls and painted the interior. That was a big job in itself and spent many hours working on the building.

We insulated and ran a water pipe to the kitchen sink. Paid for blown-in insulation in the walls and attic. Repaired and reroofed the building itself. Purchased tables and chairs; several tables were built by the group. I say “we,” but it was the combined efforts of many volunteers, from the ATV clubs, former students and others who have made it possible to save the building and keep it intact.

Members of the Livermore Community Center Association have worked since 2015 to improve and preserve the Brettuns Community Building in Livermore. Submitted photo

How do you raise your money to keep the place going? We receive donations from various organizations, and we rent the building for birthday parties, showers, reunions, craft fairs, etc. The Brettuns Pond Association has been one of our faithful supporters, as well as the local Brettuns Wheelers ATV Club and Western Maine and Canton ATV clubs. Those three ATV clubs use the building for planning get-togethers, potluck suppers, and the Livermore club meets there during the riding season and donates money each year. Our rental rates are reasonable at $50 for Livermore residents and $75 for anyone out of town, as we give a break to Livermore residents. For all renters, we ask for an additional deposit and if they follow our guidelines, the deposit is returned. There is no smoking or alcoholic beverages allowed in or near the building. Even during the pandemic, our rentals have remained constant.

Is it difficult to do the upkeep on the building? Since most of the labor is done on a volunteer basis, we also ask for donations for any supplies that are needed, and usually the local businesses are willing to give us a good deal on materials.

 I heard you are going to need a new furnace. What will you need to do to accomplish it? That will depend upon the support we get from the town and Livermore citizens. We may have to raise the rental prices, but right now, it’s a real bargain. We may try to set up a Go Fund Me page for the purchase of the furnace, oil tank and the expenses that go along with a big-ticket item like that.

Residents will be asked at the annual town meeting on April 26 if they would be willing to give $5,000 toward the new furnace. If it is approved, the association would need to raise between $2,000 to $4,000 to complete the project.


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