Burrillville Land Trust wins arts grant for project replicating historic Pascoag property

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BURRILLVILLE – The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts announced this week that a grant of $1,700 was awarded to the Burrillville Land Trust to construct a model of a 200 year old Granite School House in Pascoag.

The land trust requested funds for a multi-faceted project to educate the Burrillville community about land preservation through conservation easements. While the grant is to showcase the preservation of the 19th century, historic, one-room schoolhouse located in Pascoag, the project is also designed to illustrate how a conservation easement can be used to preserve the land, including its historical building. The funds will be used by an artist to create a scale model of the building showcasing the architecture, stone structure and beauty of the schoolhouse, according to Paul Roselli, president of the trust. 

“We are very excited about this project,” said Roselli. “This was a very competitive granting process.”

“There are few times that art and the creation of art can be combined with both historical preservation and land conservation. This project contains all three,” Roselli said.

The 25-acre property at the focus of the project is owned by Roberta Lacey and Carol Murphy, with the Burrillville Land Trust holding a conservation easement on the property.

“The conservation easement is designed to help the owners preserve the property in its original 19th century character,” Rosellli said. “The rolling landscape, pond, wetlands and springs, and the animals that live there will all have a home for all time. The conservation easement rides with the land and will continue no matter who the owners are. This is a win for the environment and for the owners who now have an additional voice and help to preserve the property.”

Property owner Lacey agreed.

“It is my hope this project will shed a positive light to those who may be hesitant in moving forward with this very important and rewarding process,” Lacey said.

Lego artist Andrew Grover will be hired by the land trust to construct a scale model replica of the one-room schoolhouse.

Grover said the project speaks to his dual passions: historic New England structures and land preservation.

“Modeling a classic school building will serve as an opportunity to bring higher awareness to conservation easement, an excellent land conservation tool,” Grover said. “The Burrillville Land Trust is one of the best land trusts in Rhode Island, and it is an honor to be a partner with them on this project.”

Roselli said he is thrilled Grover is willing use his art to educate others about the benefits of land trusts and conservation easements.

The project is scheduled for completion in early spring of 2023 and will tour the Town and region in schools, libraries, pubs and more.

“We want as wide an audience as possible,” Roselli said. “Often art is housed in a far away place where few attend. This way we bring the art to the folks that we serve. Pubs are a great place to connect with folks about the environment, the land they love and our sense of place.”

The arts grant is funded through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, and the project will also utilize a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and from private funders.

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