Brattleboro celebrated the reopening of an important downtown building Friday. The historic Brooks House was heavily damaged by fire in 2011. But now it’s back in business.
The 140-year-old landmark, with its store fronts and ornate towers, stood vacant for three years after the fire. It left a big hole in Brattleboro’s downtown. The building cost $24 million to restore, significantly more than its listed value. The project was spearheaded by local investors, and financed through tax credits, grants, loans and government programs.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is from the Brattleboro area, pushed for Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College to become the building’s first tenants. The colleges opened in August. At the
Grand Opening Friday, Shumlin praised area residents who committed to high-end apartments long before the building came together. He talked about the Brattleboro native who owned a restaurant in Colorado, but returned to open a new restaurant in the building where her mother once owned and operated a popular Brattleboro book store.
"The obstacles were tremendous," Shumlin told the crowd that gathered in atrium of the newly restored building. "And everybody came together and said, 'We will not take no for an answer, we’ll use our imaginations, we’ll do things that have never been done before.' It’s really a remarkable story."
The building has a ground floor restaurant, a yogurt shop and several other businesses. All but one of its apartments have been rented.