Rob Wisnouckas, new owner, stands in front of the Allard Block in Whitefield. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
October 07, 2021WHITEFIELD — It's remained a mystery for a few months; however, it's safe to announce that longtime Whitefield native Rob Wisnouckas has purchased the Allard Block, and has big plans for the revitalization of the iconic building.
Wisnouckas has been working with prior owner Biff Wyman for quite some time on the deal, and it recently became official. The old historic building that was built in 1905, was once known as H.A. Graves Store. Since then, it's been home to several businesses, including the old Walts Video, a bakery and an antique shop. Many Whitefield residents also lived on the top floors in rented spaces.
The building has sat vacant for several years, with locals hoping that someone would come along to bring the building back to life.
Of the purchase, Wisnouckas explained that his dream began to circulate roughly six years ago.
"I was making a video on the Common with my daughter about six years ago, and was talking about how I wished that I could buy the building, and began brainstorming everything I could do with it," he said.
Wisnouckas added, "I just stood there staring at it, thinking how much potential the building has and it was just sitting there."
The building, calling to him like a long lost friend, Wisnouckas knew he just needed to get the ball rolling, and that things would happen.
"Everyone knows this building is kind of the cornerstone of Whitefield. With this building restored, other projects in town will start to snowball," he said. "I would love to see a bike path in town that goes all the way out to Pondicherry, more parking and pathways by the river like they have in Littleton."
The plan is to have rental space available on the top floors, and a cafe in the store front.
"I would love to create a place where locals and tourists can come in every morning, read the paper, and catch up with each other before heading off to work," explained Wisnouckas.
He added, "We're missing a place like that in town where Whitefield residents can meet and greet. It's important to building a strong community."
Recalling days of his youth, Wisnouckas says he remembers ice skating and being able to walk into the Allard Block for a hot cocoa with his friends.
In looking back, Wisnouckas added, "When I think about Whitefield when I was a kid, it felt like it was a lot, it was a much smaller world. First of all, the world was a lot smaller when I was a kid. You have that small town feel to Whitefield where I knew all of my neighbors and everyone in town was pretty cool. I'd like to bring back that feeling."
Additionally, Wisnouckas an avid hiker and mountain man, would like to provide a pit stop to thru hikers.
"It would be great to offer a place for them to stay, and to refuel before heading out on the trails gain," he explained.
Wisnouckas has completed the Appalachian Trail which starts in Georgia and ends in Maine, as well as the Pacific Crest Trail, which is 2,650 miles long.
Pausing for a moment, Wisnouckas made a connection, noting "My idea actually translates well to those long days on the trail. You wake up, pack your bag and your tent and you just go, picking off mile after mile, and eventually you're done. This project will happen the same way, a little bit at a time until it's complete."
The building has had substantial flooding damage and lived through at least one fire. Wisnouckas has his work cut out for him, and is welcoming any volunteers who are willing to help in any way they can. A GoFundMe may be created down the road, with each donation being accounted for.
"When I receive donations, for example in a GoFundMe, I will keep every last receipt so that donors know exactly where the money is going. I want this to be a community project and for that to happen transparency is key," said Wisnouckas.