New Lovell building opens in the location of historic general store destroyed by 2013 fire

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LOVELL — Almost two years after a fire destroyed a historic downtown commercial building, a new smaller building has been constructed and, as of last week, is fully occupied.

“It’s attracting more traffic to Lovell,” said building owner John P. Smith.

The Sweden resident purchased the site of the 1838 Stearns, Hall & Walker Building on Main Street, once considered the hub of village life, in June 2013 after fire broke out during a February 2013 blizzard that destroyed the building.

This past summer he completed construction of the two-unit commercial building. Kezar Realty, which had been housed in the old commercial building, was the first tenant to move into the building last summer. This past week Bits and Bytes Computer Services filled the remaining space at 22 Main St.

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Smith said the new business is one of two types of businesses he originally hoped to attract to the new complex. The first was a computer store. The second was a local bank. Although he sent out letters to five banks, only one responded and a plan never materialized.

But the new computer service store is another story, Smith said.

The new store, operated by Lovell resident Stephen Cunningham, is exactly what the downtown business district needs, Smith said. The business is expected to draw customers from the surrounding towns of Stoneham, Stowe, Sweden, parts of Bridgton and Fryeburg, and, of course, Lovell. Without it, customers have to drive to New Hampshire, Bethel, Norway or toward Portland for service.

The store offers a variety of services from general service maintenance and security and hardware cleanup packages to even instruction.

Smith is also excited about the computer recycling service that the new business will offer. Customers may drop off any old computer, and Cunningham will take the hard drive from it, return it to the owner and then recycle the computer by putting a new hard drive in it. The recycled computer will be given to a local nonprofit.

Smith previously said he purchased the site because of its high visibility. He said he immediately knew what he wanted to do with the site: Rebuild it, keeping with the historical nature of the downtown area.

The l838 building was considered a major loss to the community. The 2½-story, wood-framed building was converted in the late 1980s into five individually owned business condominiums, including several owned by Kezar Realty owner Stan Tupaj.

The original 110- by 45-foot building could not be replicated, but Smith constructed the smaller two-unit commercial building and wrapped it in white-stained red cedar clapboards and green shutters.

The new  building houses two 1,000-square-foot units, with a total of 14 six-over-six windows and architectural shingles in the same style as the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library across the street.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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