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Historic Middlebury train station undergoing renovations to boost appeal

MIDDLEBURY — Steve Dupoise Sr. is banking on a new business chugging into Middlebury’s former train station at 29 Seymour St. once he has completed substantial repairs to the historic structure.
Workers on Monday were busy shoring up the foundation to the 109-year-old building, one of several improvements aimed at making the former train station more attractive to prospective tenants while honoring its historic integrity.
“When it gets done, it’s going to look sharp,” said Dupoise, who acquired the station a year ago after the previous owner — Sanel Auto Parts — moved to more spacious quarters on Exchange Street.
The current Seymour Street train station dates back to 1891, when it was erected on the west side of the tracks, according to “A Walking History of Middlebury” authored by Glenn M. Andres. In 1912, the station was jacked up and moved to a new foundation on the east side of the tracks to make way for the construction of the Seymour Street underpass that replaced the original at-grade rail crossing.
The Rutland Railroad discontinued passenger service during a strike in 1953, and all service in 1961 due to a series of bitter strikes, according to Andres. Ensuing years saw the Middlebury station sold and converted to retail use. It has undergone several modest expansions during its history. The computer services and pieces business chrismorse.net currently occupies a small portion of the building, leaving around 1,900 square feet of space that Dupoise — who also owns neighboring County Tire Center Inc. —  wants to rent out to another, as-yet undetermined enterprise.
“We are looking to find a good tenant that would be a little less intense in terms of traffic,” Dupoise said, noting an already busy parking area.
Once renovated, Dupoise believes the space will be ideal for offices. He noted the building could be equipped with a kitchenette and conference room. He wants to sort out a specific interior floor plan with a prospective tenant before delving into that segment of the project.
In the meantime, Dupoise and his contractor will focus on exterior repairs, to include some new windows; electrical, code, plumbing and heating upgrades; a roof overhaul; insulation; and complete repainting. The station should look much as it did during the early 1950s once the repairs are completed, according to Dupoise.
The work must be done with particular sensitivity, given the fact the station building appears on the National Register of Historic Places. That in turn can drive up the cost of the project, Dupoise explained. With that in mind, Dupoise has applied for some tax credits to help finance the work, so that he can market the space in a competitive fashion. He received some good news earlier this month when the Vermont Downtown Development Board awarded $42,992 in tax credits to help defray what it estimated as a $350,000 project.
The state tax credit program is available to older and historic buildings in designated downtowns and village centers.
Dupoise said residents will be pleased with the renovations as they take shape during the coming weeks.
“A lot of the architecture that people haven’t seen will stand out when this is done,” Dupoise said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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