BERLIN – A landmark hardware store’s long run on Main Street officially came to a close on Wednesday when the property was auctioned.
Pete Richardson Auction Sales owner Pete Richardson conducted the auction on Wednesday with about 75 interested buyers and citizens in attendance. The land, which is home to a two-story structure containing about 5,000 square feet over two parcels, was sold for $668,100 to South Point resident Earnest Gerardi.
The property had been listed for years with a price tag in the $900,000s, but there were no takers, largely due to the shape of the building and the fact there were only two equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) available. Some local residents had been rallying for a new restaurant or entertainment, but the lack of EDUs and the long waiting list with the town to receive future EDUs once the wastewater system is overhauled discouraged many.
Gerardi owns a number of properties in Berlin including a large house at the intersection of Bay and Pitts streets; a home on the corner of William Street and Graham Avenue; and a home across from Worcester Preparatory School on Main Street. Gerardi recently completed an extensive renovation of the house on Bay and Pitts streets and is in the midst of work on the William Street property.
Reached after the auction, Gerardi said he has no plans for the building at this time, other than leading a major rehabilitation project.
“I like buying old properties and renovating them and I would like to try commercial,” Gerardi said. “I have no plans whatsoever at this point for the hardware store property. I liked it and am going to try to bring it back to life and figure out what would be a good thing to do with it.”
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Gerardi confirmed he settled on the Main Street property, known as the Quillen house. Gerardi plans to renovate that abode as well.
“I won’t start on that until the beginning of next year. I am still working on William Street, but we will go back and renovate it for sure,” Gerardi said.
As far as future plans for his residential properties, Gerardi said his plans are uncertain. However, he did say he does not plan on renting any of them once the renovation projects are completed.
The Berlin Hardware Store, which was owned and operated by the Hall family, is a part of the history of the town. Its beginnings date back to the early 1960s and has a unique claim to fame. In the Paramount Pictures’ film “Runaway Bride,” Julia Roberts’ character, Maggie Carpenter, was employed at the renamed Hale Hardware.
Prior to becoming the expansive Berlin Hardware, the properties were referred to as the Powell and Purnell buildings, according to historical accounts. Some long-time residents still call them that today.
The Powell building was previously home to a number of businesses including Gordon Burbage’s clothing store, Severn Murray’s furniture store, the post office, Quillin’s clothing store, the New Theater, Disharoon’s merchandise store, the Berlin Booster newspaper, Silco Chain store and Geneva’s Gift Shop.
Next door was the Purnell building, which was once home to W.R. Purnell and Bros. General Merchandise and later the Purnell Company, among other things.