‘We don’t come with the house’FCTS students built Erving home

  • Franklin County Technical School Superintendent Rick Martin and Carpentry instructor Ken Vautrin talk with Denise Coyne of Greenfield Savings Bank, which helped provide funding to build this 1,380-square-foot house on Central Street in Erving.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin County Technical School and Greenfield Savings Bank gave a tour through the home in Erving that the school’s students recently built. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin County Technical School students built this home in Erving.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin County Technical School built this 1,380-square-foot house on Central Street in Erving. October 4, 2018 STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin County Technical School’s next project house is also on Central Street in Erving.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/4/2018 6:04:03 PM

ERVING – Dozens of Franklin County Technical School students huddled together for a photograph around 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, but it was no ordinary school photo. They stood in front of 26 Central St., a house they built with their own hands.

Greenfield Savings Bank set up the Franklin Technical School Building Society Inc. to finance the project, and students in the school’s various construction-based programs rolled up their sleeves and got to work in December 2016.

The goal is for the bank’s foundation to become self-sufficient, with any additional money from the sale of one of their houses going toward future houses. The next project is slated for up the street, where a foundation has already been laid.

“This house is going to fund that house,” Paul Benjamin, head of marketing for Greenfield Savings Bank, said, pointing up the street. “And that house will fund another house. This is going to be a legacy for this school.”

The bank established Franklin Technical School Building Society Inc. after Ken Vautrin, one of the carpentry instructors at the school, approached President and Chief Executive Officer John Howland.

“We were doing for Habitat for Humanity, but they weren’t getting homes in this area that frequently — every five years or so, and we have a program to try to run,” he explained. “So I asked our administration if I’m allowed to approach certain banks and propose that we do our own. And they gave me the go-ahead.”

“We just need them to know we don’t come with the house,” one male student said during the photograph.

“The kids did a great job. They worked hard at it,” said Vautrin. “You can tell they’re pleased with themselves.”

The house with gray vinyl siding spans 1,380 square feet, not including the full basement. Its features include a central staircase one sees after walking in the front door, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, ceiling fans and mini splits for heating and air conditioning. There is also room for a two-car garage, according to Benjamin.

Staff from the technical school and representatives from the bank broke ground on the Central Street house in November 2016 and convened Thursday, with the early autumn leaves scattered around, to celebrate the completion of the project.

Vautrin said more than 100 students had a hand in building the structure, with as many as 40 working on it at one time. He said work was conducted Monday through Friday, except during school breaks.

“This is a learning environment,” he said. “We took it from the foundation up. We had to hire a concrete guy, because we don’t have the equipment for that. And the school took over from there.”

Students from Vautrin’s junior carpentry class said they planned to stick around all day, putting some finishing touches on their “baby” that still sports that new-house smell. They said they’re happy with the way the project turned out, and most want to go into carpentry after graduation.

Cheyenne Mikalunas said she likes the second-floor storage spaces and Benjamin Bardwell said he loves the kitchen and open dining area. The house also features a spacious backyard and a modest public playground across the street.

Joyce Blanker, a realtor with Cohn & Company and a board member of the Franklin Technical School Building Society Inc., said buyers are expected to close on the house next week. She declined to give the sale price, but said it will be public record next week.

Any profit will go into Franklin County Technical School Building Society Inc. and will be used to help pay for the next house.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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