Photo Gallery | Mountain Paul's General Store demolition
PUTNEY — Basketville, Inc. purchased the property at 3 Bellows Falls Road for $150,000 last Tuesday and intends to use it for "open land."
Greg Wilson, the owner of Basketville, purchased the .54-acre parcel, which was most recently known as Mountain Paul's General Store. The property has a long history and was most recently owned by Patricia Mousel who had maintained and operated the building as a store and apartment complex with her husband, Paul, since 1979.
In 2006 they passed the business on to their son, Ben, but even at that time, Paul was frequently in and out of the store. Paul died suddenly in 2013, and as of June of 2014 the store has remained vacant.
"When running that kind of business, you have to be really into it," said Patricia. "Ben gave it a real good try, but it wasn't what he wanted."
Patricia said she wrestled with the idea of selling her husband's business, and did not put it on the market for about a year. "I just wanted to do what he would want," said Patricia. "But it was the only thing that was right for me at this time."
Recently, the Paul Bunyan statue that stood tall on the roof of Mountain Paul's building, came tumbling down during a heavy rain storm. "When it felt down, I thought that maybe that was a sign that the store could be sold," said Patricia.
Eric McGowan of Putney, returned the broken wooden statue to Patricia when it first hit the ground. She said it currently resides in her garage, but she hopes to have it restored and then placed somewhere in her yard at home.
Some locals and Patricia remember the store as a "working man's place," where customers could enjoy good company, conversation or a cup of coffee. More than not, the business found itself in a direct "friendly" competition with the Putney General Store, which is located just over 460 feet away.
Mountain Paul's also operated as a gas station and was at one time a place where customers could purchase fish bait, or order a deli sandwich or ice cream cone. Most recently, Patricia and Ben managed the laundromat next door to the building, and according to Patricia, there were constant troubles with the machines. The laundromat closed its doors for good October 30, and since then, locals have seen people in and out of the store removing all types of equipment.
During the holiday season and as the store is passed on to a new owner, Patricia looks back on some of her fondest memories at Mountain Paul's. For five years she called it home as she, Paul, and their two children lived in one of the apartments above the store. "Around this time of the year, I would play Christmas music from a record player on the roof. It could be heard throughout central Putney," she said. " I don't think we ever had any complaints, but it was nice around the holidays."
Greg Wilson did not return emails or any phone calls to the Reformer, but according to the documents from the Putney Town Hall, he plans to use the property for "open land." The hum of gossip around the town of Putney is that the building will be removed.
"I've heard he's going to tear it down," said Tom Hayes of Putney. "Greg is a smart business man and he'll do whatever will work best for him."
According to the Putney Grand List, the municipal land price is listed at $67,000 and the building at $251,000. The Mousels purchased the property from Sam's Market Inc on May 7, 1979, for the selling price of $103,000 and personal property at $17,000, which covers mostly equipment.
"I initially hoped it would remain a store," said Patricia. "But now, I think whatever happens, will happen."
Though the property may not continue to be what it once was, Patricia said she hopes people will remember the store as a comfortable meeting place. More importantly she hopes people will not forget Paul.
"He observed people, he listened and people really appreciated him. He could see the good in everyone," said Patricia. "Paul's death was so sudden, and took everyone by surprise. I hope everyone remembers him."