Historic L.F. Pike store comes down


NORWAY — After 130 years as an iconic landmark, it took just four hours to bring down the L.F. Pike store. 

Standing on the outskirts of the building’s footprint on Monday as an excavator stood atop piled wooden debris, owner Lesley Gouin Dean and husband Gary looked on, tired and slightly disbelieving at the sight. 

“Ask me how I’m feeling next week,” Lesley said.

On Sunday, just over a dozen people turned up to the site to finish removing historic mementos. Afterward, Dean had the store, built in 1885, torn down over concerns it was structurally unsafe.

Dean’s father, Arthur N. Gouin Jr., owned and operated it from 1980 to 2003, and she took over the operation after her father retired and closed it in 2011 for health reasons.

Historically known as the Blue Store, the building is part of the Norway Downtown National Historic District and a survivor of the Great Fire of 1894 that wiped out a large section of the business district.

In March, the 10-year-old metal pitched roof collapsed under the weight of snow, revealing years of rot, mold and structural deficiencies. Two weeks ago, after determining the building could not be saved, Dean told selectmen she would tear down the structure in lieu of the town doing so.

In the weeks running up to the decision, Dean and friends worked to dismantle its tin ceiling, cabinets, a safe and some mirrors, documenting their work on Facebook

Dean said that the next step will be to remove all of the wooden debris, extract a large boiler and prep the site so the basement can be sealed and a concrete slab eventually poured. Hope remains high that a replica of the building will be built in the future, though for now Dean said she just wanted to go home and take a rest from months of nearly constant commotion. 

“It’s a lot to take in after 30-plus years of our life,” Gary said. 

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