OTISFIELD — Close to $2,000 has been raised by the Otisfield Historical Society in its attempt to get enough money to repair the 1905 Old Town House on Bell Hill Road.
“We just hope it keeps coming in,” said Henry Hamilton of the society. “We’re shooting for $25,000. We need about $50,000 to put a basement under the place. It very seriously needs it.”
Hamilton said he hopes to raise the $25,000 by this summer to take advantage of a 50 percent matching grant. He said a local woman has promised to match all donations up to $10,000. A study several years ago showed that there are major problems with the pilings which has caused the portal to separate from the main building.
Although lack of money prohibits any major renovation at this time, Hamilton said the society’s first step is to put a foundation under the building.
Ownership of the Town House was conveyed from selectmen to the Otisfield Historical Society late last year after town meeting voters agreed in June to release the building to the Otisfield Historical Society. The agreement was based on a promise that the society maintain the building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still houses original oak woodwork, chairs and voting booths.
While work continues to raise money, Hamilton said Ken Bartow, a local carpenter, has begun work on restoring the steps to the building. “The whole portico needs some work,” said Hamilton of the entrance way that was built after the original building.
Eventually the society would like to put an addition, that is historically consistent, onto the back of the building which would not only provide a second egress to the building but a place for a bathroom and staircase to the basement.
The work would require wiring, digging a well and other major work to make it a functional building where the society might store the town’s archives and have room for organizations to hold meetings and other functions.
The society will have an open house in June.