Town looking for new owner for historic school building

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Feb. 17, 2011
Originally constructed to be a schoolhouse for the Scantic district in 1850, the property has been owned by the Enfield Grange since 1965. Photo by Tom Phelan.
Originally constructed to be a schoolhouse for the Scantic district in 1850, the property has been owned by the Enfield Grange since 1965. Photo by Tom Phelan.

A building that once served as the schoolhouse in the Scantic district of Enfield is for sale, under a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the Town of Enfield. The building was constructed to be a schoolhouse in 1850, and was last used in 2010 by the Enfield Grange, which owned it until September of last year.

According to Assistant Town Planner Dan Vindigni, Enfield deeded the old schoolhouse to the Grange in 1965. But that original conveyance deed included a reverter clause, which specified that the Town of Enfield would reclaim ownership if the Grange wished to no longer own the building.

The Town Council is seeking proposals for a new owner, as per the RFP specifications, to restore and preserve the building's exterior, since the structure was constructed in the 19th century. The RFP offers two options for prospective bidders. Under the first option, the bidder would take both the building and the land on which it sits. The second option offers only the building, under the condition that the bidder would move the building to a new location. Both options require the bidder to renovate and restore the exterior of the building to preserve the original character of its construction. Neither option prohibits the new owner from “restoration/renovation of the building’s interior.” Under both options, the RFP says that the town is, or may be, “willing to convey ownership… at no cost” under certain conditions.

The Grange lost its non-profit status due to declining membership, and property taxes on the building and real estate began to accrue. Della Froment, supervisor of assessment and revenue collection, confirmed that no taxes are due on the property. Taxes had accrued from 2006 through 2009, while Enfield Grange 151 Inc. held the title. When the property was transferred to the Town of Enfield, all tax liability was deleted by the tax collector.

All proposals must be sent to the Town of Enfield Finance Department by March 16, 2011, at 10 a.m. In the event that no prospective purchaser responds to the RFP, Vindigni said the Enfield Town Council would have to discuss what options are available, after the RFP process has been completed.

Now without its own building, the Grange meets at Faith Baptist Church on Broad Brook Road. According to its website, it has a membership of 48. The Enfield Grange was organized on March 10, 1899.

According to the mission statement of the Connecticut State Grange, it is “a fraternal organization with roots in rural and agricultural history.” Its focus is to serve as an organization of community service to support programs of family activities, legislation and other local community activities."

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