MAP Deerfield Academy buys John F. Thorn estate for $1.5 million

Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
DEERFIELD — For the second time this year, Deerfield Academy has purchased 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.

David Thiel, director of communications at Deerfield Academy, said it is a common practice for the school to look at properties that are adjacent to its campus. Thiel said that plans for the property are not definite, 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.”

Deerfield Academy purchased 2.2 acres at 36 Old Main St. from Kenneth and Pamela Williams, of Williams Farm, for $1.5 million on April 23. At that time, Deerfield Academy said there were no plans for how the land would be used.

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. That followed the August 2011 damage from Tropical Storm Irene, in which 90 of the 250 acres became submerged in floodwaters that left sand and silt and sent five inches of water into the sugar house.

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 concern for many town residents who have said they believe 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.