NORWAY — Students from The Boxberry School in Oxford toured the Gingerbread House and other historic buildings on Main Street on Monday as part of their study of local architecture.
The tour was given by Andrea Burns, president of Norway Downtown and a member of the Norway Landmarks Preservation Society.
At the first-floor tour of the Gingerbread House, Burns told them children their age once played in the large two-story house, walked to the First Universalist Church and saw entertainment at the Norway Opera House.
Students also visited the church and Opera House.
Burns said it’s not clear what the Gingerbread House will be used for once the renovation is finished, but the hope is it will a home again, or a bed and breakfast, a store or offices.
“We’re not sure what the future is, but it’s our mission to save it,” Burns said.
The project is a three-stage, multiyear effort by the Norway Landmarks Preservation Society to restore the building. It has been raising money for several years.
The 80- by 20-foot house was built in 1851 by Richard Evans and later bought by Charles Bradley Cummings, founder of the C.B. Cummings & Son dowel mill on Pikes Hill Road, according to a report by Burns to Maine Preservation in Portland. Elaborate trim was added in the late 19th century by John Hazen for Cummings.
Robert Sallies and Howard James eventually took ownership of the building while they were publishers of the Advertiser-Democrat, Burns wrote.
In 2008, C’s Inc., a real estate holding company affiliated with Sun Media Group, publishers of the Sun Journal and Advertiser-Democrat, agreed to delay demolition of the house if someone could move it from next to the Advertiser building. A volunteer group known as Friends of the Gingerbread House, who later formed the nonprofit Norway Landmarks Preservation Society, banded together to save it.
In 2011, the house was moved about 950 feet up the street, near Butters Park.
It students visited the pre-Civil War Victoria Mansion in Portland this fall. It features four different period wallpapers, oak mantle pieces, brass chandeliers, spiral staircases and rounded edges on window and door trim.
While the mansion is widely recognized as the most important expression of the Italian villa style in American domestic architecture, the Gingerbread House was actually built in the pre-Civil War era without any embellishment. Burns told the students the “gingerbread trim” was a later addition to the building.
The Boxberry School, a private school, was founded in 2003 by group of parents, grandparents and other caregivers committed to creating an environment of educational excellence.