Orthodontists buy village landmark

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

It’s the marriage of a 60-year-old orthodontics practice and a 180-year-old village landmark.  

Associates in Orthodontics, with existing offices in Essex, South Burlington, Middlebury and Newport, plans to finalize on Monday a $625,000 purchase of the brick home that was once the Old Brick Café and more recently the home of longtime Williston resident David Herskowitz. 

In recent years, Herskowitz has split his time between Williston and Florida. He is returning to town this weekend to close on the sale, then plans to move full-time to South Florida.

The house at 7921 Williston Rd. was built in 1842. It is situated next to the Old Brick Church and across from Town Hall. The back entrance abuts Williston Central School’s parking lot, which was the biggest attraction for the orthodontists. There is a similar proximity to middle schools at their South Burlington and Middlebury offices. 

“(Patients) can walk right over from middle school and have their monthly adjustment done, then go back to school. They don’t need to have their parents take time off of work,” explained orthodontist Jeff Blasius. “It’s a wonderful service for our patients and their parents. It’s kind of a lesson in adulting as well — sixth- and seventh-graders taking care of their own appointments.”

Blasius hopes the office will be open by October and described it as a satellite location with limited hours.

“It will be at least one day a week and we’ll see what the need is based on the number of patients per day,” he said. “We’ll modify the schedule based on how busy it gets.”

The practice, which opened in 1964, has three doctors who will rotate between the five locations.

In a “change-of-use” permit application with the Williston Planning and Zoning Department, the business presents plans to remove a non-working chimney, replace the sagging slate roof and replace windows. There will also be extensive interior remodeling — including the removal of walls, the replacement of floors and the addition of bathrooms and sinks — to convert the home into an orthodontist office. The front porch and front door may also need rehabilitating.

The orthodontists plan to convert a bedroom in the back of the building into “an affordable housing efficiency apartment,” their application states. They have had an initial meeting with the town’s Historical and Architectural Advisory Committee and plan to work with the committee as they finalize renovation plans. 

“The outside will be essentially the same,” Blasius said. “The intent is not to make any major alterations, preserving the character of the property.”

Herskowitz still owns an office building on the corner of Route 2 and Talcott Road. Eight years ago, he sold 39 acres to the town with the help of the Vermont Land Trust that doubled the size of Mud Pond Country Park.

The restaurant in the village had about a nine-year run, closing in 2014. Herskowitz then converted the building back into a house with a separate two-bedroom apartment. He has been living there part-time for the past three years. 

“I put a lot into it over the years,” he said. “I just hope that they add to the town and have a nice business and keep the building looking nice.”

Observer photo by Al Frey