Ferrin Gallery leaves North Street; foreclosure auction on property


PITTSFIELD -- The Ferrin Gallery on North Street has moved to Cummington, but the bank that holds the mortgage on that space has foreclosed on the property and intends to sell it at auction next month.

People's United Bank has scheduled a foreclosure auction for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 9, that will take place at the gallery, which is located at 437-439 North St., according to the legal notice.

The property is owned by Ferrin Clark, LLC, which is managed by Leslie Ferrin and Donald Clark of Cummington, according to papers filed with the Secretary of State's Office. The gallery, managed by Ferrin, has been the only tenant.

Ferrin Gallery was founded in Northampton in 1979, moved to Lenox in 2002, and has been located on North Street since 2007.

Ferrin said she decided to move the gallery to consolidate that part of the business with Project Art, a seasonal exhibition space where Ferrin currently runs an artist residency program. 

The increased use of the Internet, combined with Project Art's core clients and artists being located around the world, make the "bricks and mortar, open to the public" business model that the gallery had become "less relevant," Ferrin said.

"It may no longer be necessary or practical to maintain a venue open to the public," she stated in a written statement that is taped to the gallery's front door.

Ferrin Clark, LLC, had also been trying to sell the gallery for two years, but Leslie said the company never received any offers to either purchase or to rent the space.

"It was not working as an effective use of our funds," she said. "That's the reason we are moving our business.

"We couldn't continue to be there any longer," she said.

Ferrin declined comment on why the bank decided to foreclose on the property. Attorney Jerry B. Plumb Jr. of Springfield, who represents People's United Bank, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Ferrin Gallery is located in an area known by some as "upper North Street," which features buildings that have been renovated into living spaces, surrounded by small trendy businesses like art galleries and specialty shops. Leslie Ferrin said she was surprised the gallery space drew so little interest.

"I thought it was a desirable location," she said. "I think it still is. Nobody even tried to negotiate a lower price; they never came to us with any offers. The space next door has been on the market even longer."

But Realtor Lance Vermeulen, who listed the property, attributed the lack of inquiries to "horrible timing," because the gallery went on the market at a time when sales of commercial real estate dropped off substantially.

"It's just the markets," Vermeulen said. "[The dropoff] on the residential side is what you're hearing about a lot. But the commercial side is even harder. People are just afraid to start opening new businesses."

Ferrin termed the decision to leave Pittsfield difficult. "I'm not one to sort of give up," she said.

"Pittsfield has provided a wonderful home for our gallery," Ferrin wrote in her statement. "Our North Street chapter may be over, but the story is ... to be continued."

According to the legal notice, the property being sold at auction is listed as condominium numbers 102 and 103, along with 433, 437, and 439 North St. Ferrin said the gallery space itself is located in the two condominium spaces. The other numbers are street addresses listed on the building, she said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
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