Town gets dibs on Norway landmark

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NORWAY – The publisher of the Advertiser-Democrat says he plans to offer the historic Gingerbread House on Main Street to the town by the end of this year.

The building at 476 Main St. was purchased by Sun Media Group, publishers of the Sun Journal and the Advertiser-Democrat, in the spring of 2006 when the Costello family purchased the weekly newspaper.

Ed Snook, publisher of the Advertiser-Democrat, said Tuesday he is almost ready to let the building go to the town or the historical society, if either entity has interest in it.

“There’s nothing much to say. I’m waiting for a couple of things to get fixed up and take it off our hands,” said Snook of the building that sits vacant next to the Advertiser-Democrat building and is considered by many to be a safety hazard.

The building and land are assessed at $36,600. The assessment is based largely on the nearly half acre of land, Town Assessor Jodi Keniston said. Sun Media Group pays $603.90 in taxes on the property.

The house, which is noted for its elaborate “gingerbread” style, was built by Richard Evans in 1851 and later bought by the founder of C.B. Cummings & Sons mill. According to local historical society records, the elaborate filigree that adorns the outside of the house was added after Cummings bought it. It was made into a museum in the 1940s by the last Cummings family to live in the building. The building later was converted into apartments until the Advertiser-Democrat acquired it.

Snook said there has been some interest in the building over the years, including an inquiry by a California woman, but in the end no one has stepped forward to purchase it.

“I need to find someone who can generate the time or money to do something with it,” said Snook, who has previously estimated that it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the building.

According to Snook, the building, which was once piled with newspapers and other business items, has been emptied of nearly everything.

Although there has been some discussion by town officials and others about putting a demolition ordinance on a town meeting warrant, nothing has been proposed to voters yet. The house is located in a National Historic District, but nothing prevents the owner from tearing the building down. A demolition ordinance could allow more time for interested parties to work out other solutions rather than razing it.

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