Amherst Newspaper Office Sells Site to Local Couple for Use as Private Home | Latest titles

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After more than half a century as a news office, the Amherst-Nelson Publishing building at 134 Second St. in Amherst – longtime home of the New Era-Progress and the Nelson County Times – has been sold.

Amherst Sonny and Angela Sundaramurthy have purchased the building and intend to use it as their home. The building opened in 1969 for news and printing operations and was most recently owned by Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary BH Media Group, Inc., which also owns The News & Advance building in Lynchburg, although Lee Enterprises owns this daily and the two weekly newspapers.

According to land records, the couple bought it for $200,000. Sonny Sundaramurthy said he and his wife have six children and the building was affordable and suitable for their needs.

“It’s a beautiful building,” he said. “The facade, it looks residential.”

The challenge was how to finance the property, but they found a bank to help them do that, he said.

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“We’re excited,” he said. “We like living in the city. We first moved to the town of Amherst in 2010. We fell in love with the community.

The couple have roots in Massachusetts and upstate New York and moved to Virginia in 2005 via the Navy. Sonny Sundaramurthy was stationed near the Pentagon and they bought a house in the Fredericksburg area. He decided to take advantage of the GI bill and enrolled in Liberty University School of Law, which brought the family to the Lynchburg area while he attended Liberty from 2010 to 2013.

The family is thrilled to be in the middle of town, a short walk from what the city has to offer, he said.

“We are literally a few hundred yards from the courthouse and the only traffic light in town,” he said. “We are right in the middle of the action. It is a historic property. That’s exciting.”

For the past few years, the New Era-Progress and Nelson County Times have had staff regularly working in the building, but the facility has been generally unoccupied since the summer of 2018. Staff have used it for the past few years, but the building was not open for public business for more than three years after those transactions were transferred to The News & Advance’s office in Lynchburg.

Sonny Sundaramurthy said the family moved north in 2017 to be closer to loved ones, but returned in 2019 after missing out on Amherst.

“We can’t imagine ourselves living anywhere else,” he said. “It’s the community. That’s what we were missing. »

The couple plans to carry out renovations, including the installation of a kitchen and a full bathroom.

“We pretty much preserve the layout as it is,” he said.

The family attends Amherst Baptist Church, and he said it’s good to tell people where they’re moving because it’s such a recognizable building.

He said the only regular driving the family will have to do is their weekly trip to the Lynchburg Amtrak station to get to the Pentagon.

Angela Sandaramurthy is also delighted with the purchase.

“It’s so different,” she said. “I particularly like the story. I especially like its belonging to the community. He has his own kind of personality which is very Amherst and I love Amherst. It’s my favorite part.

She rents a building on South Main Street next to City Hall where she does seeding and alterations and has a “Hangout on Main” location which she has described as a recreation spot and community center for games and activities for children who lack things to do around town.

She said they were looking to move in as soon as possible.

“As we spend more time, we will change the layout more and make it look more like a house,” she said. “It’s gonna be fun.”

Lee Luther Jr., who is a freelance photographer for the weeklies Amherst and Nelson, remembers first entering the building in 1978. His first darkroom in the building was a former closet that, over the decade next, moved to the basement.

“The building was full of workers and everyone had a job to do, whether it was packing papers to deliver to the post office or, as one of my many tasks, loading the van Ford and to travel to Nelson County for several stores. and its post office to drop off bundles of newspapers fresh off the press.

On Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings, the building shook from the press spinning at top speed in the basement, Luther said. He remembers the late Hughsie Penn, a former longtime press operator, and the late Paige Stinnett, another longtime employee involved in print production, knocking on his door yelling at him to turn down the radio.

Joe Stinnett, the son of Paige Stinnett, was editor of the Amherst New Era-Progress from 1976 to 1978. He said he remembered the close relationships that had been forged there over the years and that he had often gone there at night to write a story or develop a film.

The building was much fuller at the time, with print production taking place in the basement and the loading dock being regularly busy with pickups. Stinnett also remembers that part of the building was rented as an office for an Amherst lawyer.

“I loved going there on Wednesdays. We printed that day,” Stinnett said. “We would have it arranged and put together.”

Building was a big part of his career and his father’s profession, he said. His close friend and mentor, Bob Wimer, a former city editor and opinion writer for The News & Advance, also worked for the Amherst newspaper, he said.

“It’s like an Amherst landmark and in a way I’m glad the building isn’t going to sit there and rot,” Stinnett said. “It will be much better for Amherst to have a house and people living in it.”

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