Fairfield Business Owner Repurposes General Store as Coworking Space

A brick store in Fairfield, now a co-working space (taken on Monday, May 15, 2023).Photo by Sean Robinson/VTDigger

Fairfield — Christa Driscoll knows inside and out the centuries-old brick building in the heart of the village of Fairfield.

“There’s so much history here,” she said, pausing on a recent morning, pointing to the carvings that dot the walls and the trapdoors that once brought in goods for sale.

The Brickstore, as the town is known, was empty when Mr. Driscoll decided to buy six years ago. Since then, she has almost completely renovated her 1830 building, aiming to create what is believed to be Franklin County’s first co-working her space.

An open house will be held on Saturday to mark the completion of the project.

“In a rural area like this, there aren’t many jobs where you can be a local expert,” says Driscoll, who grew up near Fairfax and owns a small stationery store. She wants to use her coworking space to allow people working from her home to meet each other.

Top floor of Fairfield’s new co-working space, taken on Monday, May 15, 2023.Photo by Sean Robinson/VTDigger

Driscoll’s workspace spans two of the building’s three levels. On the top floor, framed by huge wooden beams, he has five individual desks, each of which can be rented for $75 a week. There is also a small shared lounge on the top floor.

So far, she said, three people have applied to rent a desk there.

Driscoll said the bottom floor of the building is built on a small hill and set up as an “open co-working” space. This floor has individual and shared tables, a kitchen around the corner, and seating for a dozen people.

Driscoll said he’s considering charging $25 for a day’s access to the shared space and $39 for a week’s access. She also set up some outdoor tables for people to work.

Meanwhile, the main floor of the building is Driscoll’s stationery hub, and she wants to host events there. There are also several exhibits detailing the history of the building.

Since 1830, The Brick Store has had at least four different owners, Driscoll said. It served as a general store and post office for many years, she said, before becoming an antiques and flower shop in the 1990s.

When Driscoll purchased the 3,200-square-foot building in 2017, he tried to keep many of the original details intact. However, it required major renovations, including a rebuilt foundation, a modern heating and cooling system, and more efficient windows.

Fairfield town administrator Kathy Ainsworth said it was “suffering from considerable structural decline”. Ainsworth said the town was thrilled to see the building “bringing it back to life” in a prominent location on the corner of Route 36 and South Road.

Officials also hope the project will help draw people to the town of about 2,100 people.

Pictured on Monday, May 15, 2023, Christa Driscoll transforms her 19th-century storefront in Fairfield into what is believed to be Franklin County’s first co-working space. Photo credit: Sean Robinson/VTDigger

Driscoll estimates he has spent $150,000 on the project so far. “And that doesn’t include the time her husband spent here,” she said, adding that his engineering background helped throughout the restoration process.

Driscoll said the project was also supported by a federal grant of about $19,000.

Lisa Marie Charlesworth, manager of the Franklin County Area Chamber of Commerce, called the co-working space a “really great project” and that if enough people start using it, it could be replicated in other areas of the county. He said it could serve as a model for new facilities. .

The chamber is working to establish a networking group for young local professionals, and the co-working space could be a good place for that group to come together, she said.

“We talked to people who were new to the area and were looking for something like that,” Charlesworth said.

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