Gallery, thrift store evicted from Noank building amid ownership change

Groton — On Wednesday morning, Tim Pratt was in and out of 48 Main St., loading into his car artwork and the miscellaneous equipment one needs to operate a gallery that also does custom framing and appraisals.

After 33 years at the corner of Main and Pearl streets in Noank, the future of Pratt-Wright Gallery, which Pratt's parents founded, is uncertain.

Pratt knew this day was coming, he just expected more notice.

The building, listed as 46 Main St., is being sold, and he and the other tenants were told they needed to be out by Nov. 1. The building also has been home to Corner Closet thrift store, run by Noank Baptist Church, and four one-bedroom apartments.

The buyer of the building, and its future use, are not yet clear.

Neither Pratt nor Betsey Goetsch, coordinator of Corner Closet, know who is purchasing the building. Pratt said his landlord, Pat Abate, notified him of the mandate to vacate in a phone call in late September, and then he got a letter from her attorney.

Abate, who Goetsch commented was a good landlord, could not be reached for comment. The attorney, John Wirzbicki of Brown Jacobson, told The Day he doesn't know who is purchasing the building.

The Realtor, Judi Caracausa of Market Realty, said she cannot say who is purchasing the building because it is under deposit but there isn't a firm closing date. She declined to say the sale price of the building but noted it was listed at $459,000.

The 7,800-square-foot building, constructed circa 1840, has been on the market for several years. Caracausa said it started at a higher price but was adjusted downward over the years because of some deferred maintenance.

"It's a wonderful location," she said. "It's the main block of historic Noank village, and I think the new owner will do something nice there. What that is remains to be seen at the moment."

In the meantime, Pratt, who lives in Old Mystic, is looking for a new space for the gallery. He is hoping to expand the business to do more custom graphic design, the field of his wife, Adrienne Pratt.

The Corner Closet had been operating at the corner of Main and Pearl streets since 1966. It was run on a volunteer basis. Money from clothing sales went toward buying people turkeys for Thanksgiving and pajamas for Christmas, and toward bus trips for children in the summer, said Paulette Gladue, who worked at the thrift store.

Noank Baptist Church also donates clothes to fire and hurricane victims, she said. It also supports Westerly Area Rest Meals, Groton Human Services and Mystic River Homes.

After the store's last day open on Oct. 28, volunteers bagged up the remaining inventory of clothing, shoes and housewares. They loaded the items into a truck to go to the Johnnycake Center of Westerly, another thrift store.

"We'd like to continue to help," Goetsch said. "There really doesn't appear to be any place else in Noank, so we're awaiting word to be able to talk to the new owner, and hoping that they, in their plans, have a place for us."

Goetsch said the third commercial space in the building, located between the gallery and thrift store, has been vacant for about a year. One of the previous tenants was Giabonni's, a hair salon now in Mystic.

e.moser@theday.com

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