MANCHESTER - While the new Manchester Community Library heads towards completion, The Mark Skinner Library building in Manchester Village is looking for a new occupant. The library will be moving into their new building across town in September of this year, leaving the old building in search of a new occupant.

While it has officially been on the market for about a year, for sale signs were posted around the 117 year old building two weeks ago. Rabbi David Novak of the library board of trustees said the purchase of this building is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The building was appraised at $600,000, the current asking price.

"The fact remains that the old building is really lovely and multiple uses would work for the building," he said.

The Mark Skinner Library building is up for sale.
The Mark Skinner Library building is up for sale. (Andrew McKeever photo)

According to the introduction of the Village of Manchester master plan, the Mark Skinner library is a perfect example of the library movement in the United States of the late 19th century.

"Constructed in 1897 at the height of the boom in library construction in the United States, the Mark Skinner Library was donated to the community of Manchester by Mrs. Frances Willing of Chicago, Ill., the daughter of Mark Skinner, an early friend of libraries, as a memorial to her father," according to the Manchester Village's master plan.

The library was designed by F.W. Stickey, a prominent architect of his time. Freddie Templeton, head of the Manchester Historical Society, said in an email that Mark Skinner was a prominent Chicago lawyer who left Vermont in 1836, but spent his summers in Manchester.

"This [The Mark Skinner Library] was Manchester's first permanent library," she said. "It opened with 12,000 volumes, including many from Mark Skinner's personal library."

The building is located in the historic core district of the Manchester Village. Novak said the building could work as light retail, office space or as a residence. Because this building is a part of the National Register of Historic Places, there are very specific rules and regulations regarding any work done to the building.

"Within the historic core district, no contributing structure, or parts thereof, will be demolished or relocated (except to remedy a dangerous situation)," the bylaws state. "Additions, alterations, or repairs to structures, or alterations of lots within this district, must preserve or restore historical detail to preserve the historic character of the structure and streetscapes."

Novak said the sale of the library has been built into the plans for moving into the new building all along. "[Selling the building] would allow us to have another piece of our plan to move into our wonderful new building for the community," he said.