College buys historic property

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College last week acquired Addison House, a historic building on College Street in Middlebury, and plan to convert it into office space.
The previous owners of the building in February announced plans to shut its doors as a senior care facility. After 25 years in the senior care business, the owners approached Middlebury College as a potential buyer. Last week, college administrators closed the deal on the $700,000 building.
Though Addison House has been a senior care home for decades, the purchase returns a historically significant landmark to the college’s ownership — the building served as the first women’s residence hall and also housed three of the college’s presidents. In an email to faculty, staff and students last week, college President Ron Liebowitz cited both historic and practical reasons for the purchase of the property at 152 College St.
“It has long been college policy to acquire buildings and land near campus that meet either current or anticipated college needs,” wrote Liebowitz.
Liebowitz said the purchase of Addison House was offset by the sale of various other college holdings. The transaction comes as the first step in this summer’s renovation plans, which college officials said will eliminate the need for new construction or expansion into neighborhoods surrounding the college.
The renovations will create new dormitory space in spaces currently used for offices, and a number of offices will be moving to other locations on campus. This reconfiguration will make room for a projected large freshman class next fall — administrators expect the student population to increase by nearly 50 students, though the exact figure will not be available until mid-May.
The renovations, which are expected to cost between $3 million and $4 million, will also reconfigure and consolidate offices. The 15-person communications office will move into the newly renovated Addison House in August from its current location on Court Street.
“Our department was a pretty good fit for that amount of space,” said Tim Etchells, executive director of communications for the college.
The decision to move had practical reasons as well. Communications staff travel between their offices and the campus regularly, and their new Addison House location will put them in a more convenient position for that.
“It’s going to make life a little easier for us,” said Etchells.
In his memo, Liebowitz said further details on the purchase of Addison House and campus renovations would be available in the coming months, but that the renovation and reconfiguration would take place over the next two months and during the late summer.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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