Alison Meltzer

Alison Meltzer -- Project Manager

Alison MeltzerAlison Meltzer looks at Wilton through an architect’s eyes.

“We have all these architectural gems, the library, the Masonic Lodge, Frye’s Measure Mill. And then there’s the wonderful town hall.” Not to mention all of the mid-1800s houses. “And Wilton Center is older.”

Renovating the town hall is one of her favorite recent projects, changing the north end from the former police station onto the administrative offices and redoing the conference room behind the court room. She expects to be working with a historian on a Conditions Assessment Report for Town Hall with the hope of receiving an LCHIP grant for roof repairs. “It is a beautiful building.”

Alison, with her husband Ben, son Dan and daughter Liz, moved to Wilton in 1992 after living in Brookline for six years. She was born in Cambridge, Mass. and grew up in nearby Arlington. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Massachusetts College of Art and her Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of New Mexico.  She is currently associated with Scully Architects in Keene after working for many years with Monahon Architects in Peterborough. “Right up until (Rick and Duffy) died in a car accident.”

Meltzer is the president of Wilton Main Street Association. She joined their design committee around 2012 and joined the board in 2014. She is also a Trustee of the Wilton Public-Gregg Free Library.

“I didn’t start out to be an architect,” she said. “I went to the College of Art to be a painter. They offered a course on architecture, and I was inspired by a book by Walter Gropius.” He was a German architect with the famous Bauhaus, and a Harvard professor.

“I did hand-drafting for ten years, until CAD (Computer Aided Design) came along. Hand-drawing is becoming a lost art. I still do some pen and dink drawing but except for some colored drawings I haven’t done any painting.”

Her main interest is historic preservation. “As an architect, one of my favorite projects is the preservation of the Granite Mill and the Brick Mill in Harrisville. The scale of the mills there is just right for the village, not like those in Manchester.” She also worked on the East Mill in Jaffrey, turning it into housing.

She added, “I love the Wilton Falls Building. I would have loved to have been around when that was built, the way they used the confluence of the two rivers. There is so much history here. I try to imagine what it was like when the Native Americans were here.”

The Wilton Main Street Association is working toward keeping that charm while keeping up with changes.

“We need to hold on to the merchants we have and encourage them. There have been some changes, as with the departure of Putnam’s, but there are some new ones.” She noted, “The fact that we still have an operating train makes us unique, as does the Riverview Mills”.

She mentioned Gallery Oiseaux, GiGi’s Country Store, Copper Kettle, Winding River Antiques, and two new photography studios as new additions to Main Street. Almost all of Main Street is now occupied, all but the former Wilton National Bank building.

“The old train station is being renovated,” she said. “New owner, Kendall Bush is a photographer and videographer. She also has a band and has performed at Summerfest.”

There is still more work to do on Main Street Park. The last big thing is a pergola at one side which she envisions as a shaded place for people to sit. “I’d like to see a photo (retrospective) of the history of the park, back to when it was a gas station.” She would also like a paved walk from the sidewalk to the fountain for wheelchairs which have difficulty over the gravel.

Other projects include the cleaning of the war memorials as funds become available and reviving some kind of winter event for Carnival Hill. “People would like that.”

Alison MeltzerThe recent Haunting of Wilton was a huge success, she said, as was the Wander Through Wilton. “The turn-out for Trick-or-Treating was great, the parade down Main Street included a police and ambulance escort, and mostly adults did the murder mystery clues. The dance in the Park was well attended by high school students”

Santa Claus will return to the park as in past years. “We will continue to be family-friendly.”

As for the future, “We’ve managed so far to keep the sprawl at bay. If we can encourage small businesses, encourage artists. The presence of an art gallery on Main Street is a plus.”

Wilton is her place. “I grew up in a suburb of Boston and having found a rural town like this one is a blessing. You walk on the street and recognize people, greet people. It’s a different experience than what I grew up with. I can’t imagine going back.”

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