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November 19. 2013 9:55PM

Winning bidder to finalize Foss School purchase Friday

SALEM — The closing for the sale of the former Mary Foss School on Lawrence Road is set for this Friday, Nov. 23, at 11 a.m.

At an auction last month, the high bid came in at $309,000, with six separate bidders involved, Town Manager Keith Hickey said. In March, voters approved a request by selectmen to sell the Foss School.

Hickey said the name of the successful bidder is not being released until the purchase and sale is final.

What is going to become of the property is still up in the air.

"I did see the purchaser of the property and asked if he was willing to give a hint of what he was looking to do, but he was not," said Hickey. "He was not prepared at this point to tell us what he was going to be doing with the building."

The school was built in 1924 and until earlier this year was occupied by several community services organizations, including Greater Salem Caregivers, Rockingham Community Action and Servicelink. Last year, selectmen approved a plan allowing Greater Salem Caregivers to rent space within the Town Hall that was once used by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The aging building had multiple issues that led to the town decision to auction it off, including a failing roof furnace and insulation issues, Hickey said.

The auction was held at the school earlier this month and was conducted by St. Jean Auctioneers of Epping.

The minimum bid the town would have accepted for the property was $150,000. The assessed value of the property is $410,100.

In addition to its use as a school and home for social service organizations, the 7,479-square-foot building also served as the town's senior center until the Ingram Senior Center opened about a decade ago.

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