Group wants to bring Starling Hall up to code and make it a community center.

FAYETTE – Fayette residents gathered Saturday to brainstorm ideas for raising money to upgrade a historical building.

Starling Hall, a two-story former Grange hall built in the 1800s on Route 17, was once a popular meeting place and some residents want to return it to its heyday.

Improvements made so far include a septic system, parking lot and exterior paint job.

The building reeks of the early years of Fayette’s settlement with historic pictures, signs hanging from the walls and wood wainscoting.

Residents at the initial meeting to discuss how to meet their goals looked over a 1795 map outlining the property of the town’s first settlers.

They held their first fundraiser, an impromptu bake sale, with the profits going toward renovations.

“We like the building,” Selectman Joe Young said Saturday.

Young, like other town leaders, is interested in improving the building to preserve its history and be used more.

“We need a place for Fayette and the community to come together,” Fayette School Committee Chairwoman Elaine Wilcox said Saturday. “We have the school and that is great for large gatherings. But we need a place for smaller gathering and a place to congregate, to socialize, and they love this building.”

The historical society uses the building and has started a museum in one of the rooms on the main floor, society President and town Librarian, Suzanne Rich said Saturday.

They all want to see the building used more but there are several code issues that stand in their way to hold more gatherings there.

Selectmen asked Bunker & Savage Architects of Augusta last year to conduct a general code study of the hall. The building has 4,312 square feet per floor. The firm recommends adding a second exit from the first floor.

The improvement committee would like to add a second entry way in the back of the hall below an existing fire escape from the second floor. That fix should also address safety issues of the front door of the hall being 11-feet from the edge of pavement on Route 17 and allow for handicap accessibility.

The firm recommends removing the existing fire escape, second floor exit door and existing first floor window and install new exit doors and create a new vestibule onto the parking lot side of the building with new code compliant stairs, landings and handrails.

To address handicap accessibility to the second floor of the hall, the firm is recommending a limited use/limited access lift. The unit is less expensive than an elevator and could be installed in the new lobby/stairwell area.

Among the firm’s other recommendations are to install: emergency lighting, fire alarm system, fire separations between the place of assembly and stairwell and kitchen and stairwell and upgrading bathrooms to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The committee is looking at both needs that should be done as soon as possible and those that should be addressed, Young said.