The $1.2 million restoration of the historic Exner Block at 7 Canal Street in Bellows Falls, Vermont was completed in August 2000. The Exner Block is a historic building key to the revitalization of downtown Bellows Falls. It is a unique structure that contains many charming historic details – wainscoting, pressed tin walls & ceilings, solid wood doors intact with original glass and traditional brass hardware. In designing this project, the team took the opportunity to retain many of these elements while creating viable residential and commercial space. It is amazing to think that in 22 months a building that was virtually dormant for 60 years was beautifully restored to serve as a live/work setting for emerging artists!
This project was a joint effort of several organizations including Housing Vermont and The Rockingham Area Land Trust. RAMP (Rockingham Arts and Museum Project) has acted locally and regionally to raise awareness of the project with the public. RAMP also oversees the process of filling the residential and retail spaces in the building.
The building includes:
Affordable Housing and Studios for Artists
- 6 one-bedroom duplex apartments with a Studio Space
- 3 one-bedroom apartments
- 1 two-bedroom, wheelchair-accessible apartment with a Studio Space
Retail Storefronts Downtown at Reasonable Rates
- 6 commercially viable spaces ranging from 250 – 1200 square feet.
A Devoted Non-Profit Gallery Space
- The Exner Gallery which features rotating exhibitions tailored by local community members.
Applications for space in the historic Exner building are accepted on an ongoing basis. If you are an interested artist, please see eligibility for more information. If you are interested in a retail storefront, please see available spaces for more information.
Photos of one-bedroom duplex apartments with a Studio Space
Bellows Falls, VT (pop. 3500) is located in Southeastern Vermont and is situated along the Connecticut River which serves as the state line for New Hampshire and Vermont. Bellows Falls hosts a visitors center for the Connecticut River National Byway. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the local topography of the Connecticut River inspired the construction of a canal system to make the Connecticut River navigable. After the introduction of the railroads in the mid-19th century, mills were constructed to take advantage of hydro power and plentiful water. As a transportation hub and manufacturing center, Bellows Falls became the “market town” for the regional agricultural economy. For more information about the history of Bellows Falls, please consult From Mills to Main Streets.
The center point of the downtown district is the clock tower which rises above the Bellows Falls Opera House (a beautifully restored theater where one can see movies and live performances). Other downtown businesses include art galleries, a traditional hardware store, antique stores, custom tailors, healing centers, banks, municipal offices, fitness centers, a traditional barber, a printer, a framery and eateries. Gorgeously restored Victorians appoint the village streets. On the outskirts of town one can find large warehouses where paper, dairy products, and farm equipment were manufactured at one time. The hydroelectric dam is still in place and produces electricity from water that passes through the canal.
Every Friday during the spring, summer, and early falls months, Bellows Falls hosts a Farmers Market for the community. Farmers bring organic produce, meats, juices, breads, maple syrup, ice cream, and other goodies. On the third Friday of every month Art Walk draws folks into town to see the most current work of regional and national artists. Another convenience is Amtrak stops right downtown: this line travels to Springfield, MA, Hartford and New Haven, CT (options to transfer to Boston), New York City and continues on to Washington D.C.
Many members of the community strive to preserve the historic charm of this town while encouraging creative individuals to relocate to the area. There is a strong constituency of people who work collaboratively to realize public projects. The Exner Block and RAMP are two of these successful endeavors. Visit the walking tour to learn more about the history and architecture, in Bellows Falls.