Ahead of Demolition Project, Icon of Vt. College Removed for Preservation

The recognizable cupola and cross that sat atop the original building at St. Michael's College were removed with a crane

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There was something of a spectacle in the air above a construction site in Colchester, Vermont, as part of a local landmark was removed to get ready for its next chapter.

The cupola of Founders Hall at St. Michael's College, the school's very first building, is used in the logo of the college — seen on signs, banners and more.

Thursday morning, the icon was on the move.

"We're glad to be able to preserve that important symbol of a building we love so much," said Rob Robinson, an SMC alum who now serves as the college's vice president for finance.

The college will soon tear down Founders Hall, turning it into green space. Robinson explained the college determined it would just be too complicated and costly to bring the old structure up to modern standards.

However, because the building's recognizable cupola and cross are so meaningful to so many alumni and community members, St. Mike's brought in a specialized team to carefully remove it so it can be restored and reused.

"We actually took the GPS coordinates of its precise location and when the building is gone, we'll be building some kind of monument to set the restored cupola on," Robinson told NECN. "So it'll be in its original location, directly underneath — just a few feet lower."

Crane operator Bill Mullin of Demag Riggers and Crane Service said the cupola weighed in at 4,700 pounds.

"It's part of history," Mullin said, adding that removing the cupola and cross was problem-free thanks to good preplanning and work by on-site construction professionals. "I'm glad everything went well for everybody."

Joel Ribout, the facilities director of St. Michael's College, said the school's records show well over a hundred years ago, the cupola that's so precious now cost a little more than $25 at the time.

"Certainly, with the cupola being our logo, that's something we care about, so we're going to restore it and keep forever," Ribout said. "At least we can keep a piece of it that everyone can come back to, see, take pictures of, whatever else."

Deconstruction of the building and restoration of what's being saved will continue through the summer.

Ribout said he anticipates the bulk of the work at the Founders Hall site to be completed by Labor Day, though noted the timing of the reinstallation of the cupola is less certain.

The facilities director said it is his hope to have the cupola and cross in their new resting place by Thanksgiving.

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