It's not often a living piece of history comes on the market, but that's exactly what's happened with this property in Fitchburg, MA, currently listed for $525,000.
Built in 1883 as a home for local industrialist George Fay, the building became home to the Fay Club in 1910 when Fay's daughter gave it to a local club, then known as the Park Club.
Fay himself had lived in the home only two years before his death. His daughter then lived there until she decided to marry and move to California. The club showed its gratitude for her gift by renaming itself in honor of her father, who had been a founding member.
The private social club remained in operation in the 7,543-square-foot building until it closed in June 2015, citing "rising operational costs and dwindling membership." The club maintained the building in its Gilded Age glory, so all the rooms still sport the magnificent original woodwork and period details such as stained-glass windows, says listing agent Richard Healey, himself a member of the Fay Club.
"It's extremely unusual to see a building like this, where all of the woodwork is intact and all of the stained-glass windows are intact," says Healey. "The property has been maintained but not really changed."
Notables including Ronald Reagan, Rose Kennedy, and Mitt Romney have visited the club, which held daily roundtable luncheons with local business leaders, Healey recalls.
The building was designed by architect Richard Upjohn, who also designed New York City's Trinity Church. The Upjohn connection led to the building being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, Healey explains.
The top two floors of the building could be converted into residential space, Healey says. The entire building could be transformed into a single-family residence, but the agent's hope is a buyer will see the potential for a bed-and-breakfast or restaurant in the building.
A residential conversion of the entire structure would necessitate installing full bathrooms and a noncommercial kitchen. The structure has only four half-bathrooms at the moment, Healey notes.
A B&B would attract visitors to the local college campus in town, Fitchburg State. Fitchburg is about an hour's drive northwest of Boston.
The building already has a commercial-grade kitchen that the club had used, so a restaurant could easily be established there. According to local legend, there's a secret hiding area in the bar that was used to hide alcohol during Prohibition, Healey adds.
"You couldn't begin to reproduce this or buy this anywhere in any major metro area," Healey says. "It's a gem, a work of art." A work of art Healey hopes a buyer will appreciate and bring back to life as a vital part of Fitchburg's Main Street.