Juliette Britton and her husband Tim returned to her hometown of Peru, Vermont from Boston in 2004 to raise their family. “With a young family, we felt strongly that the most important thing we could do was to build something to make a tangible difference to future generations who want to raise their kids here, too.” In July 2013, the restoration project began.
To renovate or rebuild?
Juliette & Tim partnered with Tom Keefe of Middlebury-based Keefe & Wesner Architects to redesign the building. Keefe and the Brittons worked with the Vermont Department of Historic Preservation and determined that the original building could not be saved. “This was an enormously tough decision for us,” says Juliette. “We felt a responsibility to build something that would maintain the historic aesthetic of the village.”
The old building was demolished in July 2013 and the Brittons broke ground shortly thereafter in partnership with Stewart Construction.
“Tim and I invited many local contractors to participate in the rebuilding process,” says Juliette. This included the masons, painters and woodworkers, many of whom were from Peru, or within 20 miles of the store.
“We recycled as much as possible from the old building, including the cash register and glass cheese case the bell from the old door and many of the original beams. There are also wood shelves and cases throughout the store,” Juliette adds.
In addition, the Brittons used as many local building materials as they could.
The tables and benches in the 26-seat local-foods café are crafted from local sugar maple.
Local artisans Mowry & Ogden built these cabinets and cases out of the same sugar maple tree that lives on Tim and Juliette’s property.
A community member donated the slab of Danby, Vermont marble for the front walkway.
Pastor Margaret Dawedeit from the Peru Congregational Church blessed the store in June, 2013 and the Brittons officially opened for business at the start of the winter ski season, 2013.
Juliette and Tim Britton hosted a community-wide welcome-back ceremony for Olympic skier, and Peru resident, Sophie Caldwell, who had just competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Tim and Juliette can be seen in the store almost every day—often with their children. Locals and tourists, alike, love having their beloved store back. It has helped restore life to this small, tight-knit community. Says Juliette: “It has become clear to me and to Tim that the thing we really accomplish in bringing back J.J. Hapgood is giving the community back its lifeline and hub.”