Laconia – one of the most visible locations in the city has new owners and, for the first time in more than 40 years, it will no longer be used for retail jewelry.
The building at 520 Main Street, which has been the site of Sawyer jewelry since 1979, was purchased by Legacy Home Group, a real estate agency of Keller Williams Lakes & Mountains. The papers were signed Thursday morning.
Legacy Home Group, with its managing partners Kara Chase and Corilyn Tessier, is a new but growing company. It recently celebrated its third anniversary but already has 10 full-time agents, as well as other support staff.
Chase and Tessier worked out of an office in the Village West complex in Guilford, though they said they outgrew that space almost immediately. Chase said her husband called one day when he was driving through downtown Laconia and suggested building Sauer—”I said no. No, no no,” she remembers, but she brought the idea to Tessier, and to Robin Bassett, who had recently joined her legacy as a commercial real estate agent. Both liked the idea, she surprised her, and it set off a chain of events that concluded with the closing deal on Thursday.
The building with its two-storey Roman facade is among the first things people see after crossing the bridge into the city center of Laconia from the southern points.
“It’s the entrance to downtown,” Chase said.
Although the company is new, the people behind it have a long view of the area.
“We were born and raised here,” Chase said of herself and Tessier. They are thinking about their company for the long-term, and said their clients tend to do so as well, considering the effects that the purchase or sale will have on later generations of their family. Hence the “Legacy” brand that they use in their three areas of business: Legacy Home, Legacy Luxury and Legacy Commercial.
During the pandemic, the company has turned to a virtual and remote way of doing business. It would be possible to continue to do that, but, Tessier said, this was not the kind of business they wanted to run. They wanted a space big enough for all of their staff, and having such a visual location that attracts the attention of the people traveling in it was very much not to be missed.
“Having a place for our agents to come in, our clients come, on their way to all the other great things downtown, was exactly what we were looking for,” Tessier said. “We can do everything virtually now, but our team wanted exactly that opportunity.”
Tessier said the office will be renovated with the goal of welcoming both serious as well as just curious real estate shoppers, will make space for other partners such as lenders, and will actively participate in city festivals and decoration competitions.
“Yes, it’s a real estate office,” Tessier said of seeing them, “but it’s so much more than that.”
Renovation plans require the building to be modernized, but the exterior will honor its contracts as the only Rolex dealer in the area.
Robert Sawyer, who traveled from Florida to finalize the deal, said he felt strange handing over the building to someone else. He said that after making the last walk Thursday morning, he instinctively checked to make sure the doors were closed before leaving. “I’ve done that for a long time!”
Sawyer moved the jewelry store to 520 Main Street in 1979, moving it from the corner of Main Street and Canal. He also owned several other commercial real estate buildings, renting out storefronts as downtown fortunes rose and fell over the years. He said there is a relief to divesting the building from the investment at a time when things are decidedly looking to the heart of the city.
“I’m just excited,” Sawyer said. “When Kevin (Sullivan) and I started in downtown Laconia, we wanted to leave downtown in better shape than when we came, and I think that’s the case.”