RUMFORD — The owner of JD Printing on Congress Street plans to open a sporting goods store and bicycle repair shop this year in the historic Clough & Pillsbury building, also on Congress Street.

Jessica Freeman purchased the property at 109 Congress St. with her father, David Arsenault, of New Jersey for $12,770. Their offer was accepted unanimously by the Board of Selectpersons on July 16.

Rumford business owner Jessica Freeman stands in front of the Clough & Pillsbury building on Congress Street which she bought with her father from the town. She plans to open a sporting goods store and bicycle repair shop. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

“We were actually in the process of looking for another building,” she said. “This was the perfect time for us.”

According to Maine Preservation, William Clough and Walter Pillsbury opened a hardware business in the  three-story brick building in 1916. It covers about 6,000 square feet, and the upper floors retain several historic hardware displays and inventory, including cutlery, stoves, tinware, paints, fishing tackle and sporting goods.

The town took ownership of it in 2009 for unpaid taxes. It’s been  vacant since.

In 2018, Maine Preservation listed it as one of the state’s most endangered historic places.

Freeman and her father plan to keep everything as historic as they can and maintain the leaded glass transom that features the Clough & Pillsbury name inset in colored glass.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Selectperson Peter Chase said, adding he believes there’s a local market for a bike shop.

Freeman said they’re goal is to open by the end of the year. Within a year of opening, they expect to provide five to 10 jobs.

Theresa Sax offered $13,000 for the building to showcase area artisans and crafters on the first floor and office suites upstairs.

However, after hearing Freeman’s proposal, Sax gave her support to Freeman’s proposal.

“I’m sorry, but I’d vote for her,” Sax told selectpersons. She said she would look for another site.

After Freeman’s proposal was approved, she phoned her father with the news.

“He’s pretty energenic about it and starting stuff right away,” she said. Her family will help get the business ready, like they did with her printing business at 132 Congress St., which opened last Christmas.

“I have a passion in seeing Congress Street be a business district again,” she said. “I want it to be like it was when I was a kid. You walk down the street, and every building you go by is an open, working business.”

The family would also like to open a small bowling alley, if they can find the right space, she said.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: