Gingerbread House inches closer to move

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NORWAY — Plans to move the historic Gingerbread House on Main Street continue to move forward despite some land-transfer issues.

“This is a slow and tedious process,” Norway Downtown President Andrea Burns said of the transfer of ownership and land to a local group established to carry out the rehabilitation of the vacant building.

The Gingerbread House, situated near the intersection of Main Street and Pikes Hill Road, is owned by C’s Inc., which is a real estate holding company affiliated with Sun Media Group, publishers of the Sun Journal and Advertiser-Democrat. The owners agreed last year to delay demolition of the home if a grassroots organization of volunteers could successfully figure out a way to move the massive house.

The local group staked the new site for the Gingerbread House in December using nearby land from Maine Department of Transportation, the town of Norway and the building owner, C’s Inc. While the town has transferred its parcel of the property, agreements are still being worked out with the C’s Inc., which is also being asked for driveway access, and the Department of Transportation, Burns said.

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According to information from the DOT, a number of steps must be taken, including writing a legal description, having the property declared surplus, getting numerous approvals within the DOT’s departments, and other steps.

“The details are in the words,” Burns said.

Meanwhile, the group is also waiting for an agreement to be signed by C’s Inc. The agreement is being worked out based on the new house location, near Butters Park on Main Street, and resolving the driveway access issue.

If the land status issues get worked out, Burns said the ownership of the house and land would be transferred, and the Gingerbread House group can sign a contract with James. G. Merry Building Movers of Scarborough, which would move of the house.

That transfer is expected to happen by Aug. 1, she said.

Once that happens, Burns said work will begin to deconstruct one of the chimneys, remove the porch, cut down a few trees abutting the house and other necessary preparations. Burns said the gingerbread trim on the sagging and rotted porch will be saved for future reconstruction purposes.

Originally known as the Evans-Cummings House, the structure, with its octagonal tower, has graced the entrance to Norway from the north since 1851. Its builder was Richard Evans, who also built the Nash house on Pleasant Street and the passenger railroad station at South Paris. The multi-story 80- by 20-foot house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plans have been under development for the past several years to save the building, which is considered structurally sound by various organizations. Involved in the effort are Norway Downtown, the Norway Historical Society, the Gingerbread Task Force and Steering Committee, the town of Norway, Norway Water Department, Maine Department of Transportation and others.

If the committee is successful, long-range plans will be determined but members have already agreed the building must be self supporting.

The Norway Landmarks Preservation Committee, which has been formed to legally accept donations, will do business as the Friends of the Gingerbread House. There is about $277,000 in the group’s coffers that will be used in the move and some renovation of the building.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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