2017-09-13 / Front Page

Local engineering firm buys former Charlestown school

By CAMERON PAQUETTE

The former school at 159 East St. in Charlestown has recently been purchased by local company M&W Soils Engineering as its new base of operations. — CAMERON PAQUETTEThe former school at 159 East St. in Charlestown has recently been purchased by local company M&W Soils Engineering as its new base of operations. — CAMERON PAQUETTECHARLESTOWN — When M&W Soils Engineering owner Randall Rhoades saw an Eagle Times article describing the former SAU office on East Street that had hit the market earlier this year, he saw an opportunity.


“The timing during our busy season is not ideal, but it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” the company said on its Facebook page Friday.


On Sept. 6, Rhoades closed on the property, purchasing the former school and school administrative unit office from Fall Mountain Regional School District for $105,000 after roughly two years of discussing a potential move into a larger space. He said the engineering business will be fully relocated to the building at 159 East St. from its current 265 Main St. location sometime in November.


“It’s providing me with more room than I have now, both in the building and with parking,” Rhoades said Tuesday.


M&W Soils Engineering specializes in geotechnical engineering and construction inspection in New Hampshire and Vermont, and has been serving the region since 1993, according to the company website. The company also does septic design and site planning, and recently worked on the design of a proposed Ford Motor Company dealership on Charlestown Road in Claremont.


Rhoades said that in addition to the larger space and increased parking that the building affords his business, part of the decision to buy was based on keeping the building’s “history and local nature” intact, citing the many customers and residents that have come to him with memories of the former school.


“What I would have hated to see was to have the building sold off and chopped up,” Rhoades said.


The former two-room Stucco School was put on the market in April 2017 after more than 100 years of use as a public education facility. The building was first used as a school following its purchase by the local school district in Charlestown on March 28, 1916, where it housed first grade students until ownership was transferred to the Fall Mountain Regional School District on June 15, 1966.


Across the street was the Holden School, which housed students in grades 2 through 6. That building was razed decades ago to build homes.


The 4,400-square-foot building has two floors — a basement and a first floor — as well as a number of partitions inside from its time housing the SAU 60 office.


Since the purchase, Rhoades said some of the exterior landscaping has been tidied up, and that plans are in the works to rebuild the front entrance stairway and add a handicap access ramp. Aside from those changes along with some interior tweaks, Rhoades said the building is “pretty much ready to move into.”


Rhoades thanked Claremont Savings Bank and Barbara Lumbra of Century 21 for their help, along with the school district.


“They were very helpful in this process,” Rhoades said.

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