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74 Main St N, Wells River, VT 05081, USA
$196,000

Description

If youʼd like to own a magnificent brick schoolhouse built 1874 – in great condition – with potential for commercial & residential development, take a look at the eponymous Wells River Graded School (WRGS) in Vermont. Itʼs listed on the National Register of Historic Places & Wikipedia.

The WRGS was built by craftsmen with the finest materials available – brick, granite, at least 3600 sq ft of rock maple floors supported by actual 3″ x 9-11″ (not nominal) rough hewn joists – into a natural rock ledge that comprises the front half of its foundation. This has undoubtedly helped the school withstand the flood of ʼ27, a basement fire in the 40s & Hurricane Irene in August 2011. No evidence of extant damage from any of those events remains.

The only damage the building has sustained has been purposeful by ignorant, insensitive owners intent on making the building profitable by cutting the original four school rooms (about 900 sq ft each) into apartments and offices. The better two of the original four staircases from the first floor into the basement were inexplicably removed, leaving two narrow, dangerous ones, obviously designed for access to the mechanics required to operate the school – not to be used by students.

Fortunately, the solid brick exterior, with wooden windows & trim and slate mansard roof, has been left intact. The wood has suffered from a lack of maintenance & repair as often as necessary to preserve it. Repairing/replacing, prepping & painting the woodwork will be the most time consuming project facing a new owner. 3/4 of it is over 50ft off the ground, requiring scaffolding, lifts and harnesses.

This is not skilled work – if one could find a local to do it. Dedication, care and proper safety measures are imperative – with which few local contractors are willing to bother. Only someone who loves the building will take the time and precautions necessary without making the work cost-prohibitive.

The School’s only drawback is a common one with real estate: location, location, location. That is, unless one finds Vermonters quaint & charming instead of odd & taciturn. Wells River – where the villagers are as cold as Vermont in January 365 days/year. Think Newhart rather than Baby Boom

  • Expect little, if any, social interaction – post COVID. While you’ll pay the exorbitant property taxes common in the northeast, you won’t get much for them. The village administration refuses to provide detail of expenses, the most important being: how many people it employs, what they do & how much each is paid.
  • There is no constable. The closest law enforcement or traffic control (a growing problem) is provided by the VSP office in Bradford – approximately 15 miles away.  I was advised by a retired VSP officer to buy a gun for my personal protection because (honestly) VSP simply can’t respond immediately.
  • Blue Mountain Union, the consolidated K-12 school serving the villages of Groton, Ryegate & Wells River – which replaced the WRGS – ranks low among Vermont’s public schools.
  • Let’s not forget the bitterly cold & dreary winters that can last 4 months.

These are the reasons I want to sell.

I adore the School – its architecture and the era it represents – when the founders of Wells River had grand ideas and put them in place. Sadly, the founders and their descendants are long gone; leaving the village to become little more than an intersection of US Highways 302 & 5, providing one of the limited crossings of the Connecticut into NH. That’s great for commerce, not so much for living.

However, some potential exists in that transformation. The state of VT has been reinforcing the railroad trestle crossing 302, where the Wells River flows into the Connecticut. While one freight train still comes through the village once a day, perhaps this work on the railroad portends of more.

The State of VT pours most of its resources into the western half: where Burlington, Bernie and Ben & Jerrys are located. There’s just not much going on east of the Green Mountains. That seems to be the way the natives like it. They certainly don’t welcome ambitious flat-landers (non-natives of any persuasion).

After decommissioning it as a school, the village sold the WRGS into private hands around 1970. The village administration has not given a whit about it since – allowing the most egregious “renovation” : scrapping the radiators, leaving the humongous coal fired steam boiler supplying them to rust in place. Thereby destroying an efficient central heating system, replacing it with multiple ad hoc methods that leave the vestibules freezing in winter.

While added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, that distinction has become irrelevant.

Detail

  • Property ID
    287261
  • 5
    Bedrooms
  • 3
    Bathrooms
  • Square Footage
    4000 sqft
  • Lot Size
    0.25 acres
  • Second Empire
    Style
  • Icon
    Year Built
    1874

Updated on May 3, 2021 at 10:58 pm

Address

  • Address: 74 Main St N, Wells River, VT 05081, USA
  • City: Newbury
  • State/county: Vermont
  • Zip/Postal Code: 05081
  • Country: United States

Contact Agent

Lisa Stepancic
View listings

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