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Bristol landmark ‘The Pillars’ to be moved to upstate New York

BRISTOL — A town landmark, the Greek Revival style building on Route 116 known as “The Pillars,” is leaving Bristol for good.
Although some who have driven past the home recently have speculated that the building is being renovated, the opposite is actually true.
“It’s being deconstructed,” explained Diane Saunders, the Bristol resident who lives in another home on the property where the historic building currently stands and who used to own The Pillars with her husband, Alan.
“Deconstruction” means that the building is being taken apart board by board. Every piece that is salvageable will be carefully packed away and sent to its new home in Essex, N.Y., just across Lake Champlain from Charlotte.
The Pillars, which was built in 1847 by notable local architect Eastman Chase, has not been inhabited for decades. The last people to reside there were the Earl Lathrop family, who left to return to wife Gertrude Lathrop’s childhood home at Hewitt Homestead in 1974.
Saunders said she sold the building “quite some time ago” to William Gould, the owner of an architectural revival company in Connecticut. Gould said in a brief interview Wednesday that he is dismantling The Pillars and plans sell it to a prominent landowner in Essex, who he declined to name.
Gould cautioned that The Pillars is currently a dangerous construction site and he warned curious onlookers not to trespass on the property because they could unwittingly be injured.
“I’d pay a thousand dollars to put up a chain link fence to keep people out if I have to,” he said.
A Massachusetts architectural salvage company, 18th and 19th Century Recycling, was hired to oversee the process.
Dan Shields, the owner of 18th and 19th Century Recycling, said that he and his team are responsible for taking down the house and transporting it to Essex, where a team of architects and engineers hired by the Essex landowner will take over. He and his team expect it to take another two to three weeks to complete the deconstruction stage. He explained that after The Pillars goes to Essex, it would likely remain in storage for a time.
“(Deconstructed buildings) are almost never re-erected right away,” he said. “There are always materials to get, and some repairs. It’s going to take a little time.”
Shields makes his living salvaging historic buildings like The Pillars. He said that people, “often don’t deal with 18th and 19th century houses,” allowing them to fall into decay because it is not cost-effective or practical to keep them in good condition.
“It is cost-prohibitive,” Shields added.
Overall, he said his job of rescuing those historic buildings is a wonderful one.
“Every day is a treasure hunt,” he said. “The house divulges its secrets — then it’s on to the next one.”
Neither he, Gould nor Saunders would confirm exactly who the Essex landowner was.
“He’s a public enough figure that I don’t know that he would want me to go into that level detail,” Shields said.
Regardless of where it is going and who is tackling the project of restoring it, some are simply relieved that the historic home is going to be salvaged.
Shields praised the authentic style of The Pillars, which has appeared in the town’s history books.
“It’s an absolutely classic Greek Revival house, complete with all the columns and appointments,” Shields said. “That’s the way it was described to me, an absolute classic.”
Reporter Xian Chiang-Waren is at [email protected].

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