What’s up with the old Ridgefield Press building on Bailey Avenue?
Photo by Deborah Hayn
In the 1870s Lewis H. Bailey developed the doglegged road that now still connects Main Street and Prospect Street; he did so to create a shortcut to the freight yard on the eastern end. The road became home to immigrant families and, at one time, a speakeasy.
Just behind Town Hall, the site of 16 Bailey Avenue also has an interesting past. Originally serving as a livery stable for horses, it was destroyed by a fire in 1906. Rebuilt as a one-story brick building, it then serviced cars instead of horses. The garage eventually became home to The Ridgefield Press and the Hersam Acorn group of newspapers, which added a second story in 1975.
Vanacker Partners recently purchased the Bailey Avenue building and is undertaking a complete renovation. “I wanted to restore some of the old character to the building,” says Sander Vanacker. He has transformed the white cement structure into a quaint building with a brick façade and floor-to-ceiling windows facing the street.
Vanacker, who previously owned a gym in Colorado, plans to open Fitguana, an open-concept strength-and-conditioning gym, in the rear of the building. The two-foot concrete floor that once supported the heavy printing presses will now carry the weight of the training equipment. “We insulated very well,” says Vanacker, so the noise from the gym shouldn’t be an issue. The front of the building will house Julie Kate Studios, an art gallery operated by Vanacker’s wife. There is also room for another tenant. The Ridgefield Press and its sister papers, recently purchased by Hearst, have moved upstairs.