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Sean-Marie Oller, right, executive director of the Tutorial Center, and Matthew Bentley, adult education and literacy director, show off the building at 451-53 Main St. that recently was acquired by the center for its future home. The building formerly housed the Bennington Sports and Graphics shop.

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BENNINGTON — The Tutorial Center has purchased the former home of Bennington Sports and Graphics at 451-53 Main St. and will move to the new location following renovations.

“It means a move,” said center Executive Director Sean-Marie Oller. “We’re hoping to secure some grants to renovate and be able to move the program over by the summer.”

MAIN STREET SITE

In the sale, recorded on Tuesday with the town clerk’s office, Thomas and Angela Husser sold the building to The Tutorial Center for $320,000.

The building, also a former M.H. Fishman Co. department store, was constructed in 1951, according to real estate ads, and has more than 7,000 square feet of floor space.

Oller said The Tutorial Center’s current space in the Heritage Family Credit Union building on Pleasant Street has rooms that are not as large as is possible at the new site.

“The Tutorial Center is excited to announce the purchase of the former Bennington Sports and Graphics building,” Diane Morrissey, chairwoman of the center board, said Wednesday on behalf of the board. “This purchase will allow us to fulfill our vision for a larger space to better serve the Bennington area.”

Morrissey said the center “has been an integral part of our community for 51 years, supporting the educational needs of many of the adult learners and school age students. We hope to be in our new space by summer and continue to serve the community for many years to come.”

Sharon Shea-Keneally, the board vice chairwoman, said, “The Tutorial Center is proud to offer many educational opportunities for the Bennington area. As the needs of our community have grown over 51 years, so have we. We look forward with excitement to serve our students in a larger, more accessible facility.”

MORE SPACE

The nonprofit organization has been hampered in scheduling group programming while meeting COVID-19 spacing protocols during the pandemic, Oller said.

“We needed a bigger space,” she said.

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The center has eight regular staff members, she said, and more than a dozen per diem tutors.

The organization also considered other downtown spaces before deciding on the Husser property, including the rear section of the former Bennington Banner building, which faces on Union Street, Oller said.

“The Tutorial Center has been putting money aside for years to be able to move to a bigger space,” she said.

In addition to seeking grant funds, the organization will do fundraising toward the renovations and the purchase.

Centerline Architects & Planners, Efficiency Vermont and the Bennington County Regional Commission have been working with the center on the project, she said.

“I think this will be a wonderful space for The Tutorial Center and the partners we work with to come and have English as a second language classes or work on adult ed,” Oller said. “And it allows us space for the partners to actually meet with students.”

Besides teaching adults reading, writing and math skills, the center offers assistance in obtaining a high school diploma or GED (general educational development) credential, and English as a second language tutoring.

The offers also tutoring for kindergarten through 12th grade students, SAT/ACT test preparation; job skills education; professional test preparation; and study skills.

The center is funded by grants through the state Agency of Education and is a designated Adult Education and Literacy provider. The organization also works with partners on programming that receives federal funding.

The center opened in town 51 years ago and has been a registered nonprofit organization since 1976.

The Tutorial Center also has a facility at 3511 Richville Road in Manchester Center.

Jim Therrien can be reached at therrienjim76@gmail.com or by phone at 413-281-2646.

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