Former Skinner Library sold at auction

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MANCHESTER — The Former Mark Skinner library building has been sold at a foreclosure auction for $306,000 to a local couple who have not yet announced their intentions for the historic property.

Clark and Lu French of Manchester offered the winning bid during the Nov. 22 on-site auction. Details were not available about the bidding process or other bidders involved.

The Manchester Journal was asked to leave before bidding began by a representative of Berkshire Bank who said that only registered bidders were allowed inside. The auction was conducted by the Thomas Hirchak Company, a Morrisville auction house.

Clark French issued a short statement saying he and his wife, Lu, were pleased to be the purchasers and looked forward to "honoring this historic building."

"As Manchester Village residents, we have long been supporters and admirers of the Mark Skinner building, the original home of the Manchester Library," the statement read. "Like many residents, we were saddened when the building fell into neglect and disrepair over the past several years.

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"After over a century of acting as Manchester's center of knowledge, reading, and collaboration, we felt that the Mark Skinner building deserved a more fitting future. To that end, we were pleased to be the purchasers at the recent auction of the building.

"Although we are still formulating our future plans for the building, we are looking forward to honoring this historic building by preparing it for its next chapter."

The 12,500-square-foot building, located at 48 West Road, was being renovated into a private home that was to include eight bedrooms, six baths, a great room and more. Built by the Skinner family in 1897 and last used as a library in 2014, the property is in various states of disrepair.

The property was owned by Darren Foster and 914 Equities, LLC, when it was foreclosed on by Berkshire Bank, a process that was completed in February.

The judgment revealed that the principle owed on the property was more than $1.09 million. There was also close to $130,000 in accrued interest, late fees and court costs, as well as more than $40,000 in attorney's fees owed.

The Frenches will be responsible for paying back taxes owed to the town and village on the property.


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