NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing Nov. 6 to consider a recommendation by Town Manager David Holt that the owners of the former L.F. Pike & Son clothing store be given a certificate for immediate demolition of the historic building.
The hearing will be during the regular board meeting. It’s required under the town ordinance for demolition of historic structures. Selectmen will act as the review board, Holt said.
The owners of the 339 Main St. property, Lesley and Gary Dean, have announced their intention to tear down the 1885 store and build another next spring.
The peaked metal roof that was constructed above the flat original roof was flattened under the weight of snow in March. The metal roof was installed about 10 years ago to stop leaks.
Holt said Monday that the ordinance was intended to allow time for the owners of historic buildings to come up with an alternative plan to demolition, if they could. There is nothing prohibiting the owners from tearing down the building — even though it is part of a National Historic District — once they have the proper permit in place, he said.
“In the case of Pike’s, I have worked with Lesley since the collapse, so this is the end of the effort … I believe at this point the building must come down before any significant snow load,” Holt said.
The store is one of 70 historic buildings that come under the demolition-delay ordinance unanimously approved at the annual town meeting in June. The ordinance was proposed by Norway Downtown, which has a long-term goal to protect as much of the historic downtown as possible.
The ordinance allows a careful consideration — but not a denial — of the demolition of any historic building in the district.
Known as The Blue Store, the L.F. Pike & Son building is one of the few that survived the Great Fire of 1894 that wiped out a large section of the downtown business district. It features a high false front for signage and was built in several sections.
Dean, whose father, Art Gouin, owned the store from 1980 to 2003, recently said that the facade, which was unusual for New England, was very likely quite a sensation in its day and was kept in place in spite of decades of evidence that it created water and snow problems, probably starting only a couple of decades after construction.
Dean is looking for space to store the tin ceiling, shelving, drawers and other items.
Dean said she and Gary are continuing to research the history of the building. They are using a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Blue-Store/746685888734724, set up recently to chronicle the repairs of the building, to track what she calls their “new journey.”