The Perley Block, a century-old building, is undergoing renovations after FCIDC purchased it this past June.

ENOSBURG – The Perley Block – listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021 – is a centerpiece of Enosburg Falls, with a classic Modernist façade of brick and steel frame that was built circa 1960.

After laying vacant since Enosburg Pharmacy moved out in 2017, the Perley Block is now refreshed and full of new life. 

Earlier this week, Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union administrators moved into their new office space in the building and B’s Flowers will soon be entering the retail space downstairs. 

The Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation took on the project in 2021 with the intent to overhaul the building for commercial and office space.

Executive director Tim Smith said the FCIDC, which usually focuses on manufacturing and job creation projects, is looking to get more involved in community projects like the Perley Block.

“We as an organization have had a strategic plan, and part of that was to be more engaged in our communities, and I don’t say that in the sense that we haven’t been,” Smith said. “Our focus has always been on job creation and manufacturing, but now we’re looking at quality of life and place-based living, so we’re trying to assist our communities with improving their spaces.”

The Perley Block project was originally slated to house FNESU and a daycare, but the space didn’t allow for the daycare. Instead, the building is focused on being FNESU’s office with some apartments above more apartments that need to be developed.

“When we bought the building in June, we had an agreement with the supervisory union,” Smith said. “We built the building in accordance with their needs.”

Those needs, FNESU business manager Morgan Daybell said, include office space for 17 full-time staff and a few itinerant staff, three separate work rooms for tutoring and private meetings, high-speed internet and a kitchenette along with bathrooms.

The new space must also be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act , something that the former FNESU office in Richford did not follow.

Integral in the restoration was local developer Jim Cameron, owner of Green Dolphin, LLC, who also helped in the refurbishment of the St. Albans House. Cameron was recognized at the 2022 FCIDC annual meeting with an award for community service.

Daybell said the purpose of FNESU’s move was in part to move the headquarters closer to the schools in the district, putting the office in the middle.

For example, the move will cut the drive from Bakersfield Elementary to the FNESU office in half, from 30 minutes to 15. 

“One of the comments people have been making since we made the move is how much easier it is to get to Sheldon Elementary and Bakersfield Elementary from the office,” Daybell said. “And how much more traffic we’re getting from folks in the office from those schools.”

Daybell said FNESU considered a few other places in Enosburg and Richford, including Enosburg’s armory building. FNESU also considered staying in Richford’s post office building, another historic building in Franklin County. 

FNESU won’t be alone for long in the Perley Block, as B’s Flowers is moving in as well. 

Smith said through community engagement, FCIDC was informed that residents wanted more space for businesses on Main Street, so two retail spaces were developed.

One space is 500 square feet, and is currently unoccupied, while the other 1,100 square foot space is soon to be inhabited by B’s Flowers.

B’s Flowers owner Brenda Elwood said the new place is giving her more space to expand into, and while she expected to be moved in already, the amount of stuff she has to move over is making the process longer than expected.

But for Elwood, a Franklin County native, being part of the revitalization effort is worth the wait. 

“I grew up here and I’ve been here my whole life, so I’ve seen that building change and be empty, and now they’re doing this great work to it,” Elwood said. “Now people are going to be in it again, and it’s cool to be part of it.” 

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