Bank building may have buyer

MANCHESTER - A Main Street landmark building may be on the cusp of getting a new owner.

The former Berkshire Bank building, which has been on the market for the past two years, has a possible purchase agreement in place for April 30. Ray Smith, a spokesman for Berkshire Bank, which retained ownership of the building following moving its banking operations to a new branch office on Richville Road, could not say who, or what, business was in the process of purchasing the building.

Town Assessor Pauline Moore said the building has an assessed value of $729,000. The building will be sold along with the approximately half acre of land it sits on. Smith said there are two floors and a basement, with 8,000 square feet per floor. Two years ago, the bank moved out of that location completely.

Moore said the town is happy to work with the new owner.

"The town's obviously excited that something's going to happen with this great classic building," she said.

Paul Hardy, with Sotheby's International Realty in Manchester, is the listing agent on the property. He said it has been on the market for approximately three years.

Originally constructed in 1815 and operated as a tavern, Emerson Estabrook remodeled the third floor as an opera house, according to Freddie Templeton, president of the Manchester Historical Society. In 1884, the Estabrook's Opera House opened. A fire destroyed the original opera house in 1892 and in 1896 the building was rebuilt and opened as the Union Opera House. This hall was used as a community space for events, entertainment and Town Meetings into the 20th century, Templeton said.

The Manchester Historical Society was not able to find an exact date for when the building became the home of Factory Point Bank, however, they believe it happened sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

Factory Point Bank was originally chartered in 1883.

The Main Street branch was the head office for the then Factory Point Bank, which was part of the town's banking scene until 2007, when it was acquired by Berkshire Bank, a full service, 165 year-old financial institution based in Pittsfield, Mass.

The bank has several branches throughout Massachusetts, New York and Vermont. Locally, it has branches in Arlington, Dorset and Pawlet, as well as Rutland and Ludlow. The bank also has a cluster of offices in the Capital District Region of New York State.

The Richville Road branch opened in 2006. The Main Street branch's operations had migrated to that new location by 2012. Berkshire Bank has retained a branch office on Main Street next door to its former headquarters building.


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