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By Jane Fusco
Entering into the driveway of 543 Putnam Pike from Sprague Street off of Route 44 in Greenville is a smoky grey, carved owl that sits atop a wooden perch, ready to greet workers and visitors to the new office of The Smithfield Times.
Publisher John J. Tassoni Jr. was looking at another piece of property down the road when the wise owl beckoned him to take a look at the vacant house that he seemed to be guarding.
One look and Tassoni was captivated by the 96-year-old house and all its potential.
“We outgrew our old office after just one year in operation,” said Tassoni. “The new office gives us more room and flexibility in a very appealing setting.”
The office moved on Jan. 30, from the busy highway of Route 102 to this quaint Dutch Colonial, which Tassoni painstakingly remodeled while maintaining much of the original structure, including the tongue-in-groove hardwood floors, rustic cabinetry, wooden ceiling beams, French doors, and large brick fireplace with oak breakfront, and corner curios.
New windows, fresh paint, new heating elements, and updating to electrical and fire codes were also part of the process to give the nearly 100-year-old house a bit of a facelift.
“It is an office building with the charm and charisma of a home,” Tassoni said. “It is a warm and welcoming place, just the way we want our readers to feel when they read our publications.”
A printer by trade, Tassoni purchased Your Smithfield Magazine in October 2014, changing the name to The Smithfield Times, operating out of the office on George Washington Highway.
Tassoni also publishes Common Ground, a statewide monthly newspaper dedicated to work issues, working families, businesses, and unions. In addition, Tassoni hosts two radio shows on AM Talk Radio 790: Common Ground Radio, Mondays 4-5 p.m., a complement to the newspaper with discussion on the business-related topics; and Recovery Radio, Mondays 3-4 p.m., which provides useful information to people suffering from addictions.