BRYANT POND — For the past couple of summers, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has rented a small space in the basement of the town library where he can go on air without straying far from his vacation home.

Now he’s looking to expand what he calls “the northernmost bureau of Fox News” by turning the old town garage next door into a studio with room enough for an audience.

“I’d be responsible for buying and repairing the building,” he told the town in a letter offering to buy the unused spot for $30,000, and Fox “has agreed to install an advanced, broadcast-level studio if we get it.”

This old town garage in Bryant Pond could become a Fox News studio if the town accepts an offer from Fox host Tucker Carlson to sell it to him. (Sun Journal photo by Steve Collins)

Voters will decide at Monday’s town meeting whether to accept Carlson’s offer.

“It would be great to use it for something,” Town Manager Vern Maxfield said Wednesday. He said he expects the deal to pass without much opposition.

Voters also plan to make a decision about whether to use the cash to buy the shuttered Franklin Grange building next door, a more controversial issue in Woodstock, which includes the hamlet of Bryant Pond.

Bryant Pond, nestled in the hills of western Maine, is most famous for being the last place in America to abandon hand-cranked telephones. Dial phones didn’t arrive there until 1982.

Now, though, the place is on the digital cutting edge, with a 10- by 20-foot room in the basement of its library, which Carlson rents for $2,500 a year, regularly seen on television screens across the country.

A new and roomier studio would make an even bigger impression.

Sign welcoming visitors to Bryant Pond. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

Carlson told the town that “a nightly show from the garage,” which is behind the Grange hall and beside the Whitman Memorial Library, “would be a great place for local people to gather.”

He apparently plans to move quickly if the town agrees to the deal.

“I’d love to kick it off with an open house with beer and food for the town,” Carlson said, “maybe on the Fourth of July.”

Though Carlson could not be reached for comment, his Dec. 21 letter to the Woodstock selectmen lays out his idea and the reasons he’s so fond of the 1,300-person rural Maine town that he wants to make it easier to spend time there.

Carlson said in the one-page letter that he’s “spent virtually every summer of my life on Lake Christopher” in the town and plans to retire there when his television career comes to a close.

“We’ve got a plot in Lakeside Cemetery,” Carlson said. “That’s how strongly I feel about it.”

Lakeside Cemetery in Bryant Pond, beside the 1852 Universalist Church, is where Fox News host Tucker Carlson said he plans to be buried someday. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

Maxfield said he’s known Carlson for three decades. At the time, he said, Carlson was just a student who knocked about town during the summer.

Back then, when Carlson attended Trinity College in Connecticut, the future Fox host told Maxfield that someday he would like to be a journalist.

“He’s done very well,” Maxfield said, dismissing recent stories of Carlson’s off-the-wall rhetoric years ago as misplaced hoopla. He said he texted Carlson to tell him “to hang in there, bud” until the storm blows over.

Carlson is under assault following the disclosure of racist and sexist comments he made years ago on “Bubba the Love Sponge’s” radio show. The controversy has driven away many of his advertisers and raised questions about his future on television.

Maxfield said Carlson mentioned to him a couple of years ago that he’d like to find a way to do some broadcasts from Maine so he wouldn’t have to leave so often.

The town manager responded, “What about the library basement?”

With that, Fox News arrived in Bryant Pond.

It wasn’t possible to see the studio Wednesday because the library, surrounded by a muddy parking lot and towering snowbanks, is only open two days a week. But one of its two basement doors, which open onto a lot that stretches to the garage and Grange hall, had a business card in the window for Patrick Feeney, Bryant Pond bureau chief, beside a Fox News logo.

A view from the door to Tucker Carlson’s basement studio in the Whitman Library in Bryant Pond, Maine. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

Peering in the window, carts full of videos and some books were visible but nothing to indicate that it is sometimes the home for Carlson’s popular nightly show.

“The ratings for the shows we’ve done from Maine have been high,” Carlson said. “The network is pleased with the arrangement.”

He said that within Fox News, Whitman Memorial Library is famous as its “northernmost bureau.”

“Best of all,” Carlson said, “I’ve been able to spend four months a year in Bryant Pond, which is my favorite place in the world.”

Carlson’s presence in the region has rarely been noted. He spoke to the Woodstock Republicans once five years ago. And he has occasionally shown some specific knowledge of the area, though not always accurately.

For example, three years ago, Carlson talked about the Somali community in Lewiston, claiming “the left moved thousands” of refugees from camps in Kenya to Maine, a misleading summary. The early immigrants moved on their own to Lewiston from Atlanta, where they had been settled.

Maxfield said Carlson is around pretty often. He said his friend is an avid fisherman, likes to hunt occasionally and basically enjoys “anything that gets him out of the Washington mindset.”

The town manager said Carlson is well-known in Bryant Pond — an assertion easily confirmed by a few residents Wednesday who said they’ve met him — and doesn’t put on any airs.

“He’s just Tucker,” Maxfield said, a guy who is “just part of the fabric of the town” after spending so much time there for many years.

Even so, he said, it is exciting and “really cool” to think that Carlson may open a studio in the the town.

Whitman Memorial Library is where Fox News host Tucker Carlson rents space for a small studio. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

Selling him the old garage, which hasn’t been used in years, “would be a net gain” for Woodstock, Carlson said.

“It’s a beautiful and historic building. I’d like to preserve it for future generations, while making downtown Bryant Pond prettier,” Carlson said.

“We’d immediately replace broken clapboards and repaint the building in the same green and white colors,” Carlson said. “I’d also upgrade the septic system, which it shares with the library.”

Maxfield said he first showed Carlson the old Grange hall as a possible site for a studio, but the television host turned it down.

Maxfield said the town hopes to buy the Grange building, which has been empty since last spring, using the money Carlson offered for the old garage. The town can’t afford to do so without Carlson’s money, he said.

The town manager said there are no immediate plans for the Grange building. If voters agree to purchase it, he said, there will likely be a serious effort to figure out whether it can be used again or it ought to be razed.

Because of its prominence in Bryant Pond, Maxfield said, it’s important the town take control of its fate.

If it can’t be reused, he said, the property would probably be used to add more parking for the library.

Maxfield said that typically about 100 voters show up for the annual town meeting, slated for 7 p.m. Monday in the multipurpose room at Woodstock Elementary School.

Carlson, who can’t vote because he’s only a part-time resident, is not expected to show up.

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