FAYETTE — Members of Friends of Starling Hall said they hope to move the historic building farther back from Route 17 this spring, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Davis Family Foundation.
The group has plans to refurbish the historic building into a vibrant community center.
The hall was built in 1878 by members of the local Grange and closed in 2006. In 2014, selectmen sought approval to sell it to save money, but voters rejected the idea and Friends of Starling Hall began working on plans to renovate and reuse it.
The group’s secretary, Maggie Chadwick, said almost $94,000 has been raised from membership dues, donations and grants. A little over $35,000 is still needed before the hall can be moved.
“I am totally optimistic we will have the money by summer,” Chadwick said.
“This is a long-term, multi-year project,” President Joe Young said. “We will have sufficient funding to complete site work and move the hall onto a new foundation this spring. Other projects we wish to complete in Phase 1 are the installation of a concrete floor in the new basement, new fire escape and new electrical entrance.
Young said the group is working to have plans ready for Planning Board review this month. “Hopefully work will begin as soon as possible in the spring and have all Phase 1 work completed by mid-summer of 2017,” he said.
Al Godfrey of Fayette, who has a lifetime of memories tied to the hall, was elated at the news of the grant.
“This brings tears to my eyes as my 80 years of inhabiting Starling Hall at bean suppers, dances and other social functions have been a very enjoyable part of my life.”
He said, “We now have the ball rolling and I am excited to get the move underway. Once people see the building being jacked up, I am of the firm opinion more donations will pick up.”
In late 2016, Fayette native Jack Yeaton and his wife, Brenda, offered to match a donation of up to $10,000 by the end of the year. The grant meets that criteria.
The Davis Family Foundation is a public charitable foundation established by Phyllis C. Davis and H. Halsey Davis of Falmouth to support educational, medical and cultural/arts organizations located primarily in Maine, according to its website.
“The foundation was established following Mr. Davis’ retirement as president and chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. Their overriding goal for the foundation was simple and straightforward: ‘to make grants where they will do the most good and where our gifts make a real difference,'” the website said.
The foundation has provided over $54.3 million in grants since 1986.