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Developer adapts, repurposes historic Sheffield property

Craig Barnum stands outside of 113-117 Main St. in Sheffield while the building undergoes renovations. (Emily Thurlow)

SHEFFIELD — A local developer is adding a new chapter to a historic property in downtown Sheffield.
Last year, Egremont native and resident Craig Barnum purchased 113-117 Main St. and 0 Depot St. in Sheffield as CMB Block LLC for $325,000 from Mary N. Bartholomew and Kathleen M. McCormick, co-trustees of Dana A. Bartholomew Revocable Trust. Most recently, the property housed tenants on the second and third floors, and Bash Bish Brew & Que, an eatery that served up homemade bbq and pizza, was housed on the first floor of the property. The restaurant vacated the property around November of last year and tenants had left prior to that.
Since then, Barnum has been renovating the building to bring the property into more modern times.
Though he has not been able to definitively determine the exact year the building was erected, Jim Miller, archivist for Sheffield History Society, estimates its origin around 1920 by the Bartholomew family. The intention behind the build was so that Cecil Bartholomew could own and operate a store, he added.
“Before it was built, there was a beautiful Greek Revival store there run by the Little family, a prominent family in Sheffield … that burned down in 1902 or 1903,” said Miller.
Following its rebuild by the Bartholomew family, Miller says that the building has been utilized for a “good many” purposes. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, more commonly known as “A&P”, operated at the sight for many years before becoming an IGA grocery store, Miller says. Gloria and Roland Mintz ran the Sheffield Market from 1971 until the 1990s, when they retired, Miller added.
“Everyone in town went to the Sheffield Market to get something,” said Miller. “(The history) became very checkered on the first floor (after the couple retired). I couldn’t tell you how many businesses have been there since. There hasn’t been anything there since that was as stable as the Sheffield Market, from what I perceive.”
In addition to grocery stores, the building also previously housed a telephone exchange as well as two pharmacies, including George Scott Pharmacy and Cunningham Pharmacy, according to Miller. Both had soda fountains.
“It is pretty exciting that we have someone like Craig is investing some money in it (the property),” said Miller.
To tackle a total investment that Barnum says is well in excess of $750,000, he’s enlisted the help of architect Anthony Barnaba of Pittsfield-based Blueline Design Inc., Ray Hall as his builder, John Vanzandt, Brian Sisco of Siscotech and Torrico Electric. The property had cosmetically and functionally depreciated, he added.
“I’m not the easiest person to deal with,” said Barnum, noting that he was especially pleased with his team. “We have a new roof, heating, plumbing — fundamentally, we have a new building that will have quality housing and flexible retail spaces.”
Barnum credits his time working under the tutelage of developer David Carver of North Adams-based CT Management Group for igniting a passion in renovating, adapting and reusing historic properties.
Pursuing his passion, however, isn’t without its challenges. Bringing historic properties up to modern-day building codes can be a costly endeavor, but upgrading the housing stock is incredibly important, said Barnum. He also noted that lenders like Lee Bank have provided a low-interest rate environment that has helped support his project.
Once renovations are complete, the top two floors will have one, two-bedroom and four, one-bedroom apartments available. Each space will have modern touches like granite countertops and hardwoods, according to Barnum.
He estimates that the renovations will be completed by the middle or end of April with potential move-in dates by May for prospective tenants.
As for the retail spaces, Barnum says he has already entertained a few promising conversations. Ideally, he said he’d like to see some kind of food or beverage shop in one of the two retail spaces. Barnum also noted that he would be willing to work with a business to outfit the retail spaces to their needs.
“Sheffield has been really great to work with. I hope more people invest in our structures around here,” he said. “Renovating these old structures are a big benefit to the entire area and the needs we have here.”

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