Church fund-raiser supper to benefit fire victims

NORWAY – Oxford resident Arnie Pendexter said his family plans to rebuild their Norway Color Center business if their insurance settlement allows it.

“There was a full inventory in there, and we were getting right into the prime of the season, so whether we’ll have the money to do it or not, I don’t know,” Pendexter said Wednesday.

Pendexter was busy talking with insurance adjusters and overseeing removal of the huge pile of charred remains of the 250 Main St. business that was destroyed last week by a fire that started in the basement. Because of environmental concerns, it’s going to cost a lot to clean up the site, Pendexter said, and the time and expense involved are still unknowns.

Then there’s the issue of replacing about $250,000 worth of paint, solvents, stains, carpets, wallpaper, and other home decorating supplies that were lost in the fire.

Pendexter’s son Ross Pendexter, also the son of Arnie’s ex-wife and business co-owner Verna Pendexter of Norway, lived above the business, and he and his wife and young son lost all their possessions in the early-morning May 29 blaze. The apartment of another son Chad Pendexter, who lived above the Hair & Company building next door, which the Pendexters also own, sustained smoke and water damage.

To help the family, the Second Congregational Church has planned a benefit baked bean supper from 5 to 6:30 p.m. June 13. It will be served at the church at 205 Main St. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children under 12.

Pendexter was away on a fishing trip below East Grand Lake when the fire broke out. When asked how he took the news when he was reached by phone, he just shook his head.

Pendexter surveyed smoke-damaged rolls of carpet, lying on the ground, as he stood in the rear doorway of the 248 Main St. Hair & Company building. The rear section of the building was used for storage for the business.

The 250 Main St. business was actually two buildings, joined by a walkway, that were part of the Norway Historic District. The wooden part closest to the corner of Main Street and Greenleaf Avenue was built and run as Hobbs Variety Store in 1894, after most Main Street buildings were destroyed by fire. In later years it became A.L. Clark’s dry goods store, then Harlow’s Gift Shoppe, complete with soda fountain, followed by Jamie’s Restaurant in the 1970s.

The concrete block building that was part of the Norway Color Center was built sometime between 1913 and 1924, according to Norway Historic District records. It once housed a state liquor store, until the state deregulated the sale of liquor in the 1970s.

Norway Color Center opened for business in 1972, and acquired the buildings several years later.

The Hair & Company business, which sustained smoke and water damage, has temporarily relocated to Magic Hands at 8 Fair St. in Norway. The owners say they hope to complete repairs and reopen for business in about three weeks.

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