Next month, the buildings that have housed the Rutland Herald for more than 80 years will be sold at auction.
Last September, the Rutland Herald was sold to Vermont Community Media LLC and now the new owners are moving the paper’s staff to new smaller offices at 77 Grove Street, the former headquarters for Central Vermont Public Service.
That will leave the paper’s old downtown headquarters empty. The paper’s former owners, the Herald Association Inc, have been trying to sell the property for years but have had no takers. They announced Wednesday that several parcels will be sold at a public auction Oct. 27, 2017.
The properties include the Herald office building, an empty parking lot next door and a large warehouse that used to house the paper's printing presses. The are currently listed at $895,000.
Rutland Herald General Manager Rob Mitchell has strong ties to the building.
His family owned the paper from 1947 until last year. Mitchell says they’ve been working hard to ensure the transition to their new space goes smoothly and he doesn’t believe subscribers will be overly impacted.
He says he’s been so focused on the logistics of the move he hasn’t had much time to take stock of the emotional aspects of leaving a buildings the paper has used for more than 80 years.
“But every so often, I find something in the archives that really reminds me how much this place, this location, has meant to so many different people,” he says. “I kind of look at that big empty warehouse and you feel the echoes of that huge presses that would shake the whole building when it would start up.”
He says it’s been incredible to realize how much history is sitting in their basement.
“I’ve had great help from the Rutland Historical Society, who’s been helping go through the bound volumes of the present paper and they’re working hard to preserve the best copy of those," he says, "so those will be available to the public at the Rutland Historical Society.”
But beyond that, he admits there are many things in the building that mean a lot to him personally, for his family’s history.
“Things that just aren’t available on Google,” Mitchell says quietly.
But he says the mission of the paper is the same as it was in its early days; to be part of the community and to provide accurate journalism. He says his focus now is on keeping the newspaper moving forward after it moves to its new location in early November.
Meanwhile, he hopes the sale of the property will spur new development in downtown Rutland.
Besides the four parcels owned by the Herald Association, two other abutting properties are also for sale.
Brennan Duffy, Executive Director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, says it's unusual to have an acre and a half of contiguous downtown real estate available all at one time.
While the properties have been for sale for some time, he says he's hopeful that the auction's tight time line will spur potential buyers to take action and possibly move development on the site forward.
For the right investor, he says this is a tremendous opportunity.