BENNINGTON — For John Staley and Patti Love, the road to the Putnam Block began 18 years ago and 1,788 miles away, and ended on Dec. 1 when they moved into their new apartment as newlyweds.
The couple, originally from Texas, met in 2002 at the Unity Bookstore in Houston. Love volunteered at the bookstore on the weekends and came in one Saturday to lend a hand when a man caught her eye.
“I walked into the bookstore and walked up to the counter where all these cash registers were. Then I looked over there and here sat this man, and I hadn’t seen him in the bookstore before. I walked over to him and said ‘I’m Patti Love. What’s your name?’” said Love.
The man was 61-year old John Staley, who quickly replied with, “I’m John, and I’ve been waiting for you.”
The couple discussed their favorite books and quickly learned that they had much in common. Their bookstore chat soon turned into breakfast together at Denny’s.
“After that first breakfast, I thought, ‘Oh, wow, here’s a man I can have an intelligent conversation with’,” said Love.
Over the next 15 years, Staley and Love supported each other through the trials and tribulations of life, including Staley’s divorce from his wife. They began hanging out more frequently and met for breakfast at Denny’s once a week.
Staley decided to pursue his lifelong dream of heading to New England and on election day of 2016 he moved to North Adams, Mass. Every Sunday he and Love would chat over the phone and catch up. He encouraged her to come up to North Adams to live and continue their friendship.
One morning when Staley was taking out the trash he received a phone call. It was his birthday. He contemplated answering the phone but is grateful that did. On the other end of the phone was Love, singing him happy birthday.
“You know, John, it would be easy to fall in love with you,” she told him.
With that, Love packed eleven boxes and three suitcases and flew to Albany to join her soulmate in May of 2017.
The two were married in June 2020 under a tree on the lawn of the North Adams City Hall, with only one guest in attendance.
Six months later, the couple moved into their Putnam apartment.
The coincidences and meaningful fatefulness of life are what Staley believes drive his life. Patti Love was one of two coincidences that changed his life for the better. The other took place in 2004 when Staley was driving through Bennington and spotted the Putnam Building.
While the paint was chipping and the store windows remained empty, something drew him towards it. He made a promise that one day he would live there.
Sixteen years later, Staley and Love saw the construction tents set up at the Putnam Block on a fall foliage drive. The pair called Andy Paluch, a licensed sales associate at TPW Real Estate, who is in charge of the residential apartments.
Staley knew that his fate had led him here. He told Paluch that he wanted to be the first resident without seeing the apartment.
“I have to have an inner draw and that’s what causes me to make decisions,” said Staley.
Despite a four-month construction slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the residential portions of the former Hotel Putnam and the Winslow Building were completed in the beginning of December, with the first residents move in.
After a two-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple moved into the apartment on Dec. 1. While Staley said they moved in with few expectations, the apartment far exceeded them.
Their apartment is vibrant, with Picasso print hung on colorful walls and bold rugs lining the floors.
“If you look at the apartment in all of its colors and shapes and feeling you have to feel something. And what you feel is my soul expressing itself outwards into an art form,” said Staley.
The road to the Putnam for John Staley and Patti Love started long ago and far away. Now they sit together on their couch, awaiting their next adventure.