The Vermont Marble Museum, which bills itself as the largest marble exhibit in the world, will be able to remain in its historic Proctor building under an agreement between the Preservation Trust of Vermont and ZION Growers, a hemp company.
“It’s a big deal,” said Ben Doyle, president of the Preservation Trust of Vermont. “This is a great opportunity to preserve this incredible piece of Vermont history.”
The Vermont Marble Museum, closed for two years, is housed in the former factory of one of the most notable companies in Vermont history, the Vermont Marble Company.
The Preservation Trust purchased the building in 2012 to avoid the piecemeal sale of the structure and collections. Since then, he has been trying to find a buyer, hoping to preserve the building and the museum.
ZION Growers will use much of the building to process locally grown hemp into fiber for paper, textiles and building materials.
“The emerging industrial hemp market is an opportunity for Vermont,” ZION CEO Brandon McFarlane said in a press release. “The fact that this opportunity can be realized while honoring the site’s industrial heritage is why we are excited to work with the Preservation Trust of Vermont, the City of Proctor and regional economic development partners.”
Under the sale agreement, Doyle said ZION Growers is committed to preserving the historic integrity of the building. He said ZION supports 82,000 square feet of a larger building complex at 52 Main Street.
Doyle said 1,000 people once worked at the factory, which at the time belonged to the largest marble company in the world. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, and many headstones therein, were made of factory-shaped marble. So were parts of the Supreme Court and the Jefferson Memorial, in Washington, D.C.
“Without people actually working in the building, there’s a real concern that the building could just (deteriorate),” Doyle said. “An old building with no one inside is just an old building.”
Doyle said the deal was complicated because it required the Preservation Trust of Vermont to remediate a brownfield site, and the building’s integrity had to be maintained with a historic preservation easement with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
Proctor City Manager Michael Ramsey welcomed the sale.
“The City is very pleased to see more activity at 52 Main,” Ramsey said in a news release. “Combining the site’s history with a new industry is a win-win for Proctor.”
The Chamber and Rutland Area Economic Development are working with ZION Growers to identify other businesses that may be interested in relocating to the site.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont owned the building and will continue to own the museum’s collections. Under the agreement with ZION Growers, Doyle said, the museum has a 99-year lease.
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