Constructed in 1946, the Caplan’s Store was a local landmark and well-loved business in the heart of downtown St. Johnsbury. Its 2020 closure left a hole in the downtown and a lot of uncertainty about the future of the building.
In the fall of 2020, Northern Counties Health Care (NCHC), in partnership with Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, opened Northern Express Care – St. Johnsbury (NEC-SJ) in leased space on the corner of Railroad Street and Eastern Avenue in St. Johnsbury. The Express center has seen increasing demand since its opening, proving the need for walk-in care services downtown. It improved the health equity in St. Johnsbury and increased health care access for people without transportation. It allowed for the right care, at the right place, at the right time, and in the first year of operation, reduced avoidable emergency department visits by 37% in the St. Johnsbury area.
Additional space is needed to continue providing high-quality care, with improved patient and staff safety and experience. Northern Counties Health Care (NCHC) purchased the Caplan’s building in October 2021 and considered the best way to utilize the building as part of their efforts to build thriving and healthy communities. NCHC determined that renovating Caplan’s and relocating Northern Express Care – St. Johnsbury to that location is the ideal use for the building.This project will ensure the building continues to be an important part of downtown and enhances services to the community. Work on the project will begin shortly and is expected to wrap up by the end 2023. NCHC has consulted with Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Division of Historic Preservation to ensure the proposed work meets the Secretary’s Standards.
A $50,000 grant will support the rehabilitation of the historic downtown commercial building, which is currently estimated at $679,000.