Sale of Armory in Chester stirs some interest

By Cynthia Prairie

Industrial kitchen complete with pantry. Photos by Shawn Cunningham. Click a photo to launch gallery.

Industrial kitchen complete with pantry. Photos by Shawn Cunningham. Click a photo to launch gallery.

Gary Puryear takes a guest through the empty Chester Armory like an architect proud of his work. As environmental base transition coordinator for the federal Base Realignment and Closure program, he has overseen the cleanup and spruce-up of the 14,000-square-foot cinder block building. He seems to know every nook and cranny of the 1950s building as well as the 3 acres on which it sits.

“The Corps of Engineers did an excellent job of putting it up. It’s solid as a rock,” he says.

And Puryear’s eager to see the Chester Armory move into private hands and off the federal government rolls. Bids are being taken online for the building. As of Tuesday, one bid had been registered, made on Saturday, June 7, for $50,000 and an ad in The Chester Telegraph had been clicked on by almost 100 unique visitors. You can also bid on the property here and learn more about it here

This large multipurpose room off the kitchen also has a rolling door.

This large multipurpose room off the kitchen also has a rolling door.

Puryear’s been in charge of many other similar transitions, such as one in Bristol, RI, that turned an Army Reserve Center into a community center complete with gym and surrounded by parkland. “We kept everything up to snuff,” Puryear told the Providence Journal for an article last summer. “We want to turn these properties over as instantly usable,” he had said.

A set of four boilers work on a rotation basis to heat the water to heat the building.

A set of four boilers work on a rotation basis to heat the water to heat the building.

As for the Chester Armory, which has been in the decommissioning process since 2005 and had been offered to the town for free, Puryear’s been involved in cleaning up the entire site and making sure the roofs, ceilings and heat and electrical systems are ready to go for the next owner. A second Open House for the Armory will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 12.

The building, Puryear said, is free of asbestos and lead paint, the underground storage tanks have been removed and the indoor firing range – cavernous like a two-lane bowling alley in a bunker – has been cleaned up completely.

One of two designated  classroom spaces

One of two designated classroom spaces

There are seven offices, some with furniture, and a large classroom that can be divided in two. The building also contains an industrial kitchen with storage and kitchen racks, adjacent to a huge open space/dining hall/ gym with overhead rolling doors. Fitness equipment throughout the building is also included in the sale.

The men’s bathroom has three stalls and two showers and the women’s bathroom has one stall and one shower, an indication of just how few women used to serve in the military. The heating to the building is zoned and the single boiler has been replaced with four small ones that rotate in use.

The building is on town water, and has a septic system sized to accommodate 250 people. Puryear said that while the roof doesn’t leak, some ceiling tiles are stained and will need to be replaced. And several years ago, the roof lines were angled to better manage any snow loads. “Only twice in 20 years have we had any concerns about the roof that we shoveled it” he said, pointing up. “But we didn’t have any problems.”

Puryear said that there have been interesting ideas floated for the building, such as a school building for specialty programs, a combined fire/police department facility, a cheesemaking business and a business incubator site.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Tina Stocker says:

    Seems like we could use this building for seniors, youth and other community functions.

  2. Kathy Giurtino says:

    It would be wonderful if the Town of Chester took over the Armory for a Senior/Teen center with the possibility of renting it out for functions such as weddings and reunions. There are very few venues in the area for large functions. If it goes into private hands, I hope its use as a function hall will be considered.