WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Richard A. Ruether American Legion Post 152 is now a tenant in what used to be its own building.
The organization sold its property at 117 Latham St. to Williams College for $775,000 on Monday. It also signed a lease agreement with the college, which will allow it to continue to use the first floor of the building for two years.
Frederick Puddester, treasurer and vice president for finance and administration at Williams, said Tuesday that the two-year time frame will give the college time to figure out what it wants to do with the building, and the American Legion time to determine its next steps.
"The ability for us to rent the space back to them so they could continue to use it was very important to them, and we feel just fine with that," he said.
If the American Legion needs to use the building’s second floor, which includes a kitchen and meeting room, the college will allow them, he said. The organization has traditionally used the space for membership meetings and special events, such as Veterans Day exercises.
Kevin Hamel, commander of American Legion Post 152, said Wednesday that finances are tough nowadays, and the sale of the building will allow the organization to do more with supporting its scholarships and youth programs, as well as patriotic practices and initiatives focused on helping veterans.
"The officers and members are very pleased with the cooperation we got from
As for where the organization will be physically located in the future, they’ll worry about that when the time comes, he said.
"The Richard A. Ruether Post 152 will always exist no matter where we are," he said.
Puddester said a representative from the American Legion approached the college over the summer and asked if it was interested in purchasing the property. After some discussion, it was agreed that the college would have an appraisal done of the building and land and then pay the American Legion the price of the appraisal, he said.
"Our thought was this was a pretty important piece of property at the corner of Spring and Latham streets," he said.
The college financed the construction of the building in 2001-02 as part of a land swap between itself and the American Legion.
James Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs at Williams, said there was a time in the 1990s when the college planned to build the center for theater and dance near the base of Spring Street.
"The plan required use of the land that the Legion was then on. To acquire that parcel, the college agreed to build for the Legion the building they’re in now," he said.
The former American Legion had been at the corner of Spring and Walden streets since 1944, and is now green space.
"At that point, there was no reason to think that the college would some day acquire the new building," Kolesar said.
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