Find the ‘Best of NH’ Crowded Around Lebanon’s Colburn Park

May 9, 2018
By Tom Haushalter

It isn’t for the recognition that AVA makes art happen for the Upper Valley community. But when the honor comes from the community itself, we’re especially humbled.

New Hampshire Magazine recently announced its annual “Best of NH 2018” list, including everything from the state’s best antiques shop to its best martini, as voted on by its readers.

And the readers have spoken, choosing AVA Gallery & Art Center as New Hampshire’s Best Art Gallery.

The acknowledgment highlights how much it means to the community that AVA continue to foster creative expression. From featured exhibits in our gallery space to metalworking classes in the new Sculptural Studies building, from the popular Mudroom storytelling series to the annual High School Exhibition—AVA’s mission to provide everyone with opportunities to connect with art has earned an important vote of confidence.

Those same New Hampshire Magazine readers had even more love to spread to Lebanon mainstays. The coffee artists at Lucky’s Coffee Garage were recognized as “Best Coffee in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region.” And on the other end of Colburn Park, Salt hill Pub may now bask in the honor of having the “Best Burger in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region.”
Great art, great coffee and burgers—the stuff that happiness is made of. And yet we know these only scratch the surface of the amazing art and music and food and drink to discover and explore in the Upper Valley.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Features AVA in a New Article

National Trust for Historic Preservation AVA Article


The National Trust for Historic Preservation is featuring AVA in their recent article, From Factory to Art Gallery in Lebanon, NH.

The article begins:

Adaptively reusing an old building can have benefits both tangible and intangible. Just ask Bente Torjusen, executive director of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Several years ago, the organization purchased and renovated the 1850s former H.W. Carter & Sons overalls factory and turned it into an energy-efficient art center with studios, classrooms, and exhibition space. When we talked with Torjusen about local travel ideas for the Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, we found the AVA Gallery story so interesting that we asked her to elaborate on it. Excerpts from our conversation with her are below.


Click here to read it all.

AVA is Branching Out, Deepening Roots — Update on the progress of our capital campaign plans

AVA Yellow House

October 15, 2015

We are excited to share with you some news about the progress on the plans that our capital campaign will make possible. As previously announced, we will construct a 3-D studies facility on our property adjacent to the parking lot on the rear of our Carter-Kelsey building. We have received approval from both the zoning and planning boards of the City of Lebanon to move forward on the construction.

The existing building, a small one-family home from 1890, will be demolished in order to provide the necessary space for the new construction, scheduled to begin in April 2016. The re-useable parts of the house have been salvaged, including flooring, windows, doors and cabinets. While the lovely crabapple tree on the east side of the house could not be saved—it was just taken down by AVA artist and board member Michael Kraatz, ably assisted by Justin O’Rourke (see photo)—the wood from the tree is being stored for use in the 3-D center’s new woodworking studio.

Before demolition of the remainder of the house takes place later this month, the Lebanon Fire Department will undertake a training session at the site. They will not burn the building down, but will practice access and rescue operations from the roof.

We continue to make progress on our $3.5 million capital campaign. A $200,000 grant this month from the Timken Foundation of Canton helped push us beyond the half-way point toward our goal. We also recently met the challenge from the Byrne Foundation by successfully raising $25,000 in new or increased campaign gifts, and those have been matched dollar-for-dollar by Byrne. In addition, our efforts to eliminate the mortgage on the Carter-Kelsey Building have been extremely successful—in just this past year, the mortgage has been reduced from $410,000 to $130,000. With the pledges we have received, the mortgage will be completely eradicated by October 2016. In addition, we continue to develop our plans for the new artist members’ gallery. We are looking forward to providing a beautiful space for our artists to share their work with both the community and other artists, including a frequently rotating show space, promotional opportunities through digital archives, and gallery store possibilities.

Please stay tuned for more progress reports!


Salvage Items from AVA’s Yellow House

Future Site of AVA 3D-Studies Building

Deconstruction Works of West Dummerston, VT will be salvaging items from AVA’s Yellow House on Monday, September 28th through Wednesday, September 30th.

Several items will be salvaged for consignment sale on behalf of AVA including: 1000 sq ft Hardwood Flooring, Vinyl Replacement Windows, Kitchen Cabinet Set, Cast Grates and Front Door.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these items please email or


AVA’s Plans for the Future

Site  Floor Plan-page-001

AVA’s plans for the future include a new building for 3-dimensional studies, to be constructed on our recently acquired property behind the parking lot on the north side of our Carter-Kelsey Building.

Construction of the new building will begin late summer/early fall 2015; completion is scheduled for spring 2016. It will be constructed to meet “LEED” (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements.

In spring 2016, the current Stone Carving Studio will move from AVA’s Carter-Kelsey Building

to the new 3D facility. The former Stone Carving Studio will then be transformed into an additional exhibition space for a Members Gallery; this gallery will expand opportunities for sales and promotion of works by the many talented artists who are members of our organization.

A $3.5 million capital campaign is underway to realize these plans. This campaign also includes

Initiatives that will make our facilities net-zero by 2017 (including the installation of solar panels). In addition, it will help eradicate the mortgage on the Carter-Kelsey Building and make possible the establishment of a reserve fund to position AVA for a vibrant future.

AVA’s Green Building Challenge: A Work in Progress

This past spring, we were pleased to announce a new initiative: AVA’s Green Building Challenge. Its aim is to significantly shrink our carbon footprint, with the goal of making our facility a “net zero” building by 2017. In other words, we hope to have a building that ultimately produces more energy than it consumes.

As we continue the conservation efforts that began with our 2007 building renovation, we will also begin tapping into the significant solar-power potential of our site.

The first phase of this goal began in May, when we contracted with the Jordan Institute to focus on the energy-saving opportunities inherent in our building and to examine the potential for renewable energy. In hiring the Jordan Institute—New Hampshire’s premier think-tank dedicated to addressing climate change in the built environment through aggressive building efficiency upgrades— we will once again be working with the team that was instrumental in our achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-certification for our renovation. Jordan’s staff, led by Paul Leveille, is currently analyzing three years of our energy consumption, both thermal and electrical. (It is already evident that the 2011 LED lighting upgrade in our gallery spaces made a significant reduction in kilowatt-hours.)

The strategy is to reduce the electrical loads as much as possible (measuring devices placed throughout the building will identify areas for improvement), then address the solar potential of AVA’s rooftop as well as other areas capable of producing both thermal and electrical energy.

The prospect of making the “new” old Carter-Kelsey building net zero has energized AVA’s Board, staff and friends. It builds on work that has been accomplished over the past several years and reflects our ongoing commitment to sustainability. It is in our DNA: The Arts and the Environment—a winning combination!

Dwinell Plaque Unveiling 4-2012

Dwinell Plaque Unveiling 4-2012


The historical display area features part of an exterior wall of an old warehouse that came to light during AVA’s 2006-2007 renovation of the former H.W. Carter & Sons overall factory. The warehouse was built in 1859 by H.W. Carter when he was a young traveling salesman, then known as “The Merchant Prince of New England.” From 1870 on, after Carter had decided to become a manufacturer of work clothes, he built addition after addition around this warehouse as the factory expanded.

After more than a hundred years of manufacturing, the H.W. Carter & Sons overall factory closed its doors in 1985. In 1990, AVA became a tenant at 11 Bank Street, then acquired the building in 2003. During the ensuing renovation, part of the old warehouse, with its original slate roof supported by Victorian brackets, was revealed. Segments of the slate roof have also been incorporated into the east walls of the adjacent renovated bathrooms on the first floor – unsuspecting visitors all delight in the fact that these modern “green” restrooms, with dual-flush toilets, also feature the “archeological remains” of a nineteenth-century structure. This historical display area, which is augmented with vintage clothing, tools and mementos showcasing a vital manufacturing past, offers visitors a fascinating insight into the building’s importance in the history of Lebanon and the Upper Valley.

At the reception and unveiling on Saturday, April 28, remarks will be given by Stephanie Jackson, granddaughter of H.B. Jackson, who was co-owner of the H.W. Carter & Sons from 1902 to 1928, and sole owner until 1965, when his two sons, Frank and Stanley took over the ownership. Members of Lebanon Historical Society and trustees from the Lane and Elizabeth C. Dwinell Charitable Trust will also be present.



Accolades for AVA

Last November, during the presentation of the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC) Business and Community Leadership Awards, much praise was bestowed upon AVA. As noted in our previous publication, AVA was the recipient of the “2011 Business Innovator of the Year Award”—one of four HACC awards.

Each of the awardees had sponsors who, in their eloquent speeches, succinctly summarized the specific achievements that earned their awards. AVA was deeply honored to be sponsored by longtime supporters Jane Kitchel and Peter McLaughlin of Chicago Soft. In her lovely presentation, Jane emphasized that she and her husband Peter appreciated the wealth of inclusive art programming that AVA offers. She went on to say that they were particularly impressed with “AVA’s ability and desire to reach outside of their own interests and bring value and art to unrelated organizations, populations and programs.”

While Peter was unable to be present at the festivities, Jane said that his many years of service to the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts had made him appreciate, with great pride, that AVA holds a special position among arts organizations in the state. She concluded her speech by saying that Peter believed it was AVA’s “willingness to take programmatic risks while demonstrating fiscal prudence that has allowed them to not only sustain, but to thrive during tumultuous times.”

We wish to express our gratitude to Peter and Jane for their generous support and gracious sentiments; to former AVA Chair Linda Roesch, who spoke compellingly about AVA; and to Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce for so masterfully organizing the award ceremony and producing the impressive program for the event. (This publication showcases AVA in a stunning double-page color spread.) Finally, we wish to congratulate our fellow winners: Advance Transit; Julia Griffin, Hanover’s Town Manager; and Lou’s Restaurant.