NORWAY — A tower that once graced the roofline of famed children’s author C.A. Stephens’ mansion near Lake Pennesseewassee has been moved to a newly created green area near the western entrance to Norway’s downtown historic district.
Responsible Pet Care officials gave the tower to Mike Cullinan of Norway, who used the tower as a children’s room in the organization’s thrift shop on Waterford Road and had to remove it for an expansion.
“I contacted (Responsible Pet Care President) Shirley Boyce and said I think it needs to be saved. It just can’t be demolished. It’s the last known tangible remnant of Stephens’ lab,” Cullinan said.
Boyce said Cullinan was the only person who came forward with interest.
“There were others that wanted to see it saved, but Mike implemented it,” Boyce said.
Cullinan got Planning Board approval to move the tower to the newly created Old Squire’s Green next to C&C Farm and the Old Squire’s Farm Market on Main Street across from the Gingerbread House.
“It will see better days in the future,” Cullinan said. it will be renovated next spring, he said.
Charles A. Stephens, a noted author, medical doctor and scientist, built a 40-plus- room home and “laboratory” near Lake Pennesseewassee in 1888. He studied ways to extend human life. He died Sept. 22, 1931.
The tower was first purchased by Lyndon Philbrook, who put it on top of a gas station on Waterford Road. When that building was torn down, the tower was moved to the house now occupied by Responsible Pet Care’s thrift shop.
Although it was suggested early on that the tower be moved a short distance to the entrance of Lake Pennesseewassee where the Stephens’ rose quartz well sits, many felt the tower would be safer in a more populated area.
After purchasing and demolishing a building on upper Main Street, Cullinan said the idea to place the tower next to the C&C Farm and the Old Squire’s Farm Market would be perfect.
“I wanted to put it right out on the road so people would pull up to it like a tourist thing,” Cullinan said. “But town ordinances prevented it because of setbacks.”
With the help of Jerry Cleveland of Jerry’s Carpentry and Painting and Scott Everett of Everett Excavation, the tower was taken off the Pawsibilities Thrift Shop late last week and placed on a cement base in downtown Norway.
The move was slow and arduous, but very little damage was done to the tower, Cullinan said. “It was tender, but sound,” he said.
Cullinan said he intends to leave the false, slightly pitched roof on the tower so it will weather Maine winters better. He hopes to work with the Norway Historical Society to find old pictures of the tower and mansion and set up a display area and plaque to inform people of the tower’s history.
Its future is uncertain. It could be a farmer’s market area or even a reading room.
Cullinan said he has no intention of taking ownership of the piece. At some point, it will be offered to the town.
“Norway needs to be constantly promoting itself,” Cullinan said. “C.A. Stephens could be popular again. His stories are charming and a marvelous view into our past.”