Tang Science Annex

Partners in this monumental project start the construction with a symbolic first dig.

Partners in this monumental project start the construction with a symbolic first dig.

May 4, 2022| Categories: Fairbanks Museum, Museum News

Digging in!

This monumental project is coming together after years of planning and fund-raising. So many people helped along the way with innovative ideas and generous donations. We’re humbled and awed to be at this milestone — digging into the ground where Franklin and Frances Fairbanks laid the first stone for the building that has welcomed thousands of visitors for over a century.

Congressman Peter Welch secured funding through the US Department of Agriculture-Rural Development that allowed the project to move ahead.

We celebrated to launch the start of construction with the teams from Vermont Integrated Architecture, Bread Loaf Corporation and

  • Congressman Peter Welch
  • Chris Saunders, Northern Borders Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair
  • Joyce Judy, President, Community College of Vermont
  • Sarah Waring, Vermont and New Hampshire USDA State Director
  • Paige Crosby, Fairbanks Museum Board Chair

Excerpts from an article by Andrew McGregor, Caledonian-Record (5/5/2022)

“The weather didn’t quite cooperate for us today, but as I thought about it, it’s actually the perfect analogy for this endeavor of the Science Annex that the Fairbanks Museum has been working on,” opened Adam Kane, Fairbanks Museum Executive Director. “It has never quite gone to plan … at no point. It’s always taken longer and been harder than we expected, but it has always worked out in the end.”

The Science Annex, as it will soon be realized, was first envisioned in 2016. Since then the project has had to overcome challenges caused by the pandemic, as well as a year-long construction delay due to initial bids that were 60% over projections. In adversity, though, came opportunity, said Kane, noting that the partnership with Community College of Vermont was a product of thinking creatively to find partners that could support and benefit from the expansion.

The idea of expanding the museum, though, has been a dream for decades longer and has evolved over the years as the museum grew from the historic building to now encompass the larger campus with auxiliary buildings for classrooms, exhibit storage and administrative offices.

Kane thanked myriad individuals, organizations, businesses, and agencies, local and national, that helped make the project a reality, including U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who sponsored an earmarked appropriation through the U.S.D.A. that helped the project cross the fundraising goal line.

Welch congratulated the crowd of roughly 100 for their vision and perseverance and highlighted St. Johnsbury’s and the museum’s history of being a home of invention and science.

“There was a period of time when science and invention sort of went out of fashion,” said Welch. “But it’s coming back, and we’ve got the Science Annex, and we are leading the charge right here in St. Johnsbury.”

Welch highlighted other investments in St. Johnsbury, including the New Avenue Apartments which he toured earlier Wednesday, as signs of progress in town.

“When you began to conceive of whether we could do this, the answer was generally no, when you thought about it … but you didn’t think about it,” said Welch to laughs from the crowd. “You believed in yourselves and you believed in St. Johnsbury.”

Welch commended the partnerships and cooperation that contributed to the effort and spoke of the legacy the annex will have on future generations.

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Paige Crosby, Fairbanks Museum Board Chair, closed out the ceremony by speaking of the legacy and purpose of the museum.

“If Franklin and Frances Fairbanks were here today they would be thrilled,” said Crosby. “Franklin’s cabinet of curiosities has inspired wonder in young and old for well over a century.”

“I’d like to thank Oscar Tang for loving and supporting this community all of his life,” said Crosby. The museum’s addition is formally named the Tang Science Annex for the investment banker and philanthropist who briefly lived in St. Johnsbury as a child and has supported St. Johnsbury Academy and the museum over the years.

In addition to being the future home of CCV, the Annex will provide greater accessibility to the historic museum, and provide space for hands-on exhibits, and feature installations on meteorology, astronomy and the mass timber building technique, among other elements.

Paige also thanked the many community members who see value in the museum’s mission and has supported it.

“The understanding and respect for science and the natural world have never been more important than now … this fragile and complex world needs creative and inspired thinkers and scientists,” said Crosby. “This building is a place where that begins and expands.”

The Tang Science Annex will be constructed with cross-laminated Eastern Hemlock from New Hampshire and Vermont. The structure will serve as a demonstration building for this innovative technique.

Tags: Fairbanks Museum, Mass Timber, natural history museum, natural science, Northeast Kingdom, Science Annex, St. Johnsbury, STEM