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Old courthouse for sale once more

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE IS looking for a buyer for the former Addison County courthouse on Middlebury’s Court Square.
Independent photo/John Flowers

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College continues to look for a buyer for the former Addison County Courthouse at 5 Court St. in Middlebury. It is a prominent, 139-year-old building that recently belonged to the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) co-working space.

A listing with IPJ Real Estate indicates a $1,150,000 asking price for the structure, which had been on the market for 123 days as the Independent went to press on Tuesday.

“Several parties have expressed interest, but we have not yet sold the building,” confirmed Sarah Ray, Middlebury College’s director of media relations. “We have not used this historic building to its full potential in recent years and therefore decided to offer it for sale to someone who would find the space more appropriate for their needs.”

This is actually the second time the college has looked to sell the former courthouse building, which served as the county’s hub for judicial proceedings from 1883 until the Frank Mahady Courthouse was built in 1996 on a plot behind the stately old courthouse. The college was deeded the building after it ceased being used as a courthouse. The institution in 2011 sold the building to VCET for $2 million in a deal that saw the college lease back two of the three floors from the organization, for 10 years. At the conclusion of the lease, the college “had the option to buy the building again and exercised that option with the intent either to use the building to its full potential or find a buyer who would,” said Julia Ferrante, the college’s vice president for public affairs.

The old courthouse for a while continued to house staff members from the college’s Office of College Advancement and its fundraising operation. Meanwhile, VCET used a portion of the space for “entrepreneurs in residence” and business start-ups in need of short-term physical space.

VCET, since 2005 has “worked with entrepreneurs helping to crystallize concepts, assemble teams, craft business models, secure resources and locate early customers,” according to its website.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced VCET to close its Middlebury co-working space, VCET Vice President Sam Roach-Gerber told the Independent on Monday.

“We no longer have coworking space in Middlebury,” Roach-Gerber said, though she stressed VCET is still working with student entrepreneurs at Middlebury College’s Innovation Hub.

Ferrante said the second and third floors of the building are currently being rented to Marble Trail Financial, and the first floor is being rented to the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival as well as some individuals. The college is using the basement for file storage.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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