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Deerfield Academy purchases Thorn Estate in Old Deerfield for $1.5M

DEERFIELD — For the second time this year, Deerfield Academy has purchased a piece of property in Old Deerfield for $1.5 million.

According to the Franklin County Registry of Deeds, the Trustees of Deerfield Academy purchased the John F. Thorn Estate at 22 Old Main St. from Jennifer A. Wood, a personal representative, on July 29.

According to Karen Menard, the town assessor’s clerk, the estate will remain on the tax rolls for 2015, but may become tax-exempt if it is used for educational purposes according to state law.

According to data provided by Menard, the estate carried a $7,153.88 tax bill for fiscal year 2014.

Deerfield Academy’s Director of Communications David Thiel said it is a common practice for the school to look at properties that are adjacent to the prep school campus. Thiel said that plans for the property haven’t been set in stone, but it will likely be used for faculty housing.

“The presence of a house on the land presents the opportunity to expand faculty housing,” said Thiel. “Our faculty members are all residents, and many of them use their homes for tutoring or to host student clubs and events.”

On April 23, Deerfield Academy paid $1.5 million for 2.2 acres at 36 Old Main St. from Kenneth and Pamela Williams, of Williams Farm.

In 2013, the sweet corn producer stopped farming the crop and rented its 250 acres to Savage Farms, a 103-year-old potato and sod farm based in West Deerfield. It followed the August 2011 damage from Tropical Storm Irene, in which 90 of the 250 acres became submerged in flood waters that left sand and silt and sent five inches of water into the sugarhouse.

At that time, Deerfield Academy said there were no plans for how the land would be used.

With Deerfield’s budget becoming increasingly tighter, land purchases by the town’s three private schools — Deerfield Academy, the Eaglebrook School and the Bement School — have become a sore spot for many town residents, who have said they think the schools should contribute more to the town in lieu of taxes.

According to state law, the private schools are not obligated to contribute to the town in taxes or gifts for property that is used for educational purposes.

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