Stevens & Associates provided architecture and engineering design to the owners of the historic Brooks House, which burned in a five alarm fire in 2011. After investing over $1.5 million to stabilize the structure, the owner reached the conclusion that rebuilding was not financially viable. Instead, a group of five local investors took on the tremendous obstacles facing the project: fire and water damage, extensive mold problems, and almost insurmountable difficulties in arranging the complex financing for the renovations. The 1871 second empire hotel sits at the corners of Main and High Street and is identified as Brattleboro’s most prominent landmark.
Stevens & Associates’ development expertise assisted the owners in creating sources and uses budgets, as well as marketing material in the form of a potential front view of the finished Brooks House for prospective tenants. As a result, the building was already 85% occupied when it officially opened to the public in October 2014.
Originally built in 1871, the Brooks House now features retail and restaurant spaces, offices, Vermont community colleges, and market-rate, high-end rental apartments in downtown Brattleboro. The building’s design is in accordance with historic preservation standards, which played a significant role in much of the detailing and project execution. The design brings back much of the historic grandeur of the building, with a two-story atrium on the ground level, a grand stair, fully restored exterior millwork and copper trim, and many brand new storefronts designed to match the existing storefronts along the street. High-end finishes throughout combined with energy saving details and systems, provide this community with a benchmark building that can once again reign as the icon of downtown Brattleboro.
This project serves as an example of how new life can be brought to a downtown community following a destruction that threatened the identity and heart of Main Street. Stevens & Associates’ solutions to the plethora of structural challenges showed how creative thinking and technology can overcome what may at first appear as overwhelming hurdles.