Albert J. Marro / File Photo
The entrance to the Vermont Marble Museum located in the old Vermont Marble Company building in Proctor is shown.
PROCTOR — The Vermont Marble Museum is looking for a few good tenants to fill space in the building that houses the museum – rent free. Building owners Marsha and Martin Hemm are putting the word out that they’re looking for industrial, retail, studio and office tenants to occupy the remaining space in the factory building with up to eight months of free rent.
The Hemms signed a deal at the end of last year to sell most of the museum collection to the Preservation Trust of Vermont for $250,000. The Trust also has a one-year option to buy the building from the Hemms for $480,000. Of that amount, the Trust has raised $125,000 toward the purchase, including a $100,000 donation from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
“It will ease in the long-term operation (of the museum) to have additional tenants in the building for sure,” Paul Bruhn, executive director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont, said Monday. “And I think it will make a difference to donors or potential donors to know that the building will be self-sufficient long term.”
There are six existing tenants in the building, including small manufacturers, retail, studio/workshop, office and storage, Marsha Hemm said in an email.
That leaves 16,735 square feet available to lease: 3,000 square feet of finished, air conditioned office space, with conference and lunch room (Hemm said the office space can be single offices or suites); a 4,835-square-foot, three-bay garage and workshop with mechanics pit, office and bathroom; 800 square feet of retail space; a 600-square-foot studio; and 7,500 square feet of light production space.
Facing an end of the year deadline to purchase the museum collection and the building for $880,000, the Preservation Trust came up short in its fundraising effort. But the Hemms accepted $250,000 for the exhibits, museum gift shop and 2,500 large format glass negatives that chronicle the history of the Vermont Marble Company — at one time the largest marble company in the world.
Not included in the collection purchase price is the stone library and paper archives. The stone library contains marble samples from around the world. An unidentified Northeastern university has expressed interest in acquiring the library and paper archives. The archives include various Vermont Marble Company documents, including blueprints.
Faced with a spike in Proctor’s electric rates, the Hemms last year decided to sell the museum. The Preservation Trust of Vermont stepped forward and agreed to purchase the museum rather than have the museum collection possibly broken up and sold to an out-of-state buyer.
The Hemms have agreed to operate the museum for another year, which Bruhn called a “blessing,” that will allow the Trust to concentrate on fundraising and find a permanent nonprofit to assume ownership and operation of the museum and building.
The museum will reopen for its 81st season June 1, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is $7 for adults; $4 teenagers; $5 seniors; and admission is free for children and Proctor residents.
The free rent offer includes use of the loading dock, shipping area, crane, air-conditioned office space with retail access and established tourist visitors.
Utilities, moving costs and renovations (if needed) are not included. Interested parties can email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application or for more information.
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