Norway, state agree on land for Gingerbread House

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NORWAY — A memorandum of agreement between the Maine Department of Transportation and the town of Norway to acquire a 2,346-square-foot parcel of land on Route 117 for the Gingerbread House was signed Thursday night by the Board of Selectmen. The vote was unanimous.

The agreement, however, came with the stipulation that the state agency be paid $2,500 as compensation for the value of the property and to cover all administrative expenses associated with the conveyance. That money will be paid through a fund established by the Save the Gingerbread House group, Town Manager David Holt said.

“The town has no money going into the Save the Gingerbread House Fund,” Holt told selectmen before they voted.

Last February, voters approved donating a piece of town land as part of the effort to move the 20-by 80-foot house at Main Street and Pikes Hill Road. It 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 in late 2008 to delay demolition of the historic home if a grassroots organization of volunteers could successfully figure out a way to move the massive house off site.

Members of a task force staked the new site near Butters Park farther west on Main Street using nearby land from Maine Department of Transportation, the town of Norway and the Gingerbread House owner.

The DOT had to go through a fairly lengthy process to deed the property over.

Once all the land is transferred, the building will be moved. That work is expected to happen this summer.

Originally known as the Evans-Cummings House, the home, with its octagonal tower, was built in 1851 by Richard Evans. He was considered an important contractor who also built the Nash house on Pleasant Street and the passenger railroad station at South Paris. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plans have been under development for the past several years to save the building by various organizations, including 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.

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