Thank you for your interest in and support of the Valley News. So far, we have raised 80% of the funds required to host journalists Claire Potter and Alex Driehaus for their one-year placements in the Upper Valley through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

New Press for the ‘Valley News,’ ‘Monitor’ Reviving Long-Shut Concord Facility

  • Gary Tewksbury walks along Merrimack Street in Penacook in front of the old Rivco entrance last week. Concord Monitor — Geoff Forester

  • Rivco work Everett Decatur puts together a window at the old plant back in 1980. Concord Monitor file photograph

Concord Monitor
Published: 12/9/2018 12:04:13 AM
Modified: 12/9/2018 12:04:53 AM

Concord — Life is returning to a huge complex in the Capital City village of Penacook as neighbors gear up for the site’s revival after a decade in which it sat mostly silent.

“To me, it’s bringing up the economy, giving people jobs,” Gary Tewksbury said about his new neighbors, the Valley News’ parent company, which is shifting its printing operations there.

Tewksbury was raised one block away on Rolfe Street and now lives on Merrimack Street, directly across the road from the rambling industrial site.

“Everybody on this street, we’ve got no problem with it (reopening),” he said. “It’s better being used than being empty.”

Tewksbury still has fond memories of door and window manufacturer Rivco, the most recent occupant of the site and his former across-the-street neighbor.

“See those two windows?” he said on a recent weekday, pointing at the facility from his porch. “A friend of mine worked there, in that part of the building. He kept an eye on my house when I was at work every day, looking to make sure everything was OK. It was a good neighbor.”

This location, tucked against the Contoocook River as it meets the Merrimack, has seen industrial operations as far back as the 1880s, usually involving the construction of doors and windows. It has been largely empty since Rivco abruptly shut down in 2007, abandoning a couple hundred thousand square feet of buildings.

The new tenant for a portion of the site is Newspapers of New England, which owns the Valley News, the Concord Monitor and the semiweekly Monadnock Ledger-Transcript in Peterborough, as well as several newspapers in Massachusetts.

David Sangiorgio, who oversees the printing business for the firm, said NNE has leased 42,000 square feet in the Penacook plant, including nine docks for handling the loading and unloading of newsprint and newspapers. The firm is installing an offset press and building offices inside the building for its circulation and commercial printing business.

It also has leased storage space for hundreds of tons of newsprint. If that’s not enough room, tens of thousands of square feet of additional floor space is available in adjoining buildings.

Newspapers of New England will in the coming months shift its printing operations there for the Valley News, the Monitor and the Ledger-Transcript, as well as for its commercial customers.

City officials understandably are happy to have at least a portion of the Rivco site used again.

“Obviously it’s an underperforming property,” said Carlos Baia, deputy city manager for development.

The site currently is assessed at about $1.7 million. New valuation will be set in April.

Baia said the site has been part of the city’s pitch to developers for many years but many firms have balked at its lack of quick access to the highway: “It has its challenges, location-wise, for industrial use.”

“There has been discussion over the years about potentially some mixed use on that site: some commercial and some residential,” Baia said. “There are a lot of view corridors to the river that might make it attractive to residential development.”

Industrial work began on the location in the 1880s, when the Rolfe family, one of the original families to settle in Concord, established what became the Rolfe Sash and Door Co., with “sash” referring to window units.

That company operated through World War II. After it shut, the site was mostly empty for more than a decade until Riverside Millwork Co., commonly known as Rivco, opened in 1963. It also made doors and windows, mostly for contractors and developers in the region.

In its heyday, Rivco employed some 300 people, but it shrank and grew along with changes in the housing market, as is reflected in the hodgepodge of interconnected buildings. City records show that one section was built in 1900, one section in 1974 and one section in 1978.

The facility struggled in the last couple of decades of existence, changing hands a few times. It closed in 2007 after being bought by a private equity firm, JMC Venture Partners, which quickly shut it down.

“My friend worked four days a week there,” Tewksbury recalled. “One Thursday, the boss came by and gave him his paycheck. He said, ‘Here’s another long weekend,’ and the boss said, ‘You’re going to have more time off than that. The doors close today.’ That’s the first he heard of it.”

Since then, it largely has gone unused. WalMart leased a portion as a warehouse for a while, Tewksbury said, and the easternmost building, not attached to the rest, now is used by Natural Playground Co., which builds a variety of wooden structures there, mostly for school and institutional playgrounds.

John Foot, shop foreman for Natural Playground, said the company was happy that Newspapers of New England was moving in next door, because empty buildings can attract vandals.

“It’s better off for surveillance. Now they’ll know it’s being used,” Foot said.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy