NORWAY – The Norway Historical Society will observe the 13th anniversary of its incorporation as well as the 25th year of the opening of its museum this year.

Events will kick off with an open house at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at the society’s building, 471 Main St. More details will be announced as the date approaches.

Until the early 1950s there were only eight formally organized historical societies in the state, and there were none in the area until the Bridgton Historical Society was incorporated in 1964.In the following decade, Waterford, Paris Hill, Rumford, Bethel, Lovell, Fryeburg and Harrison incorporated historical societies in the region. The area’s newest society is Gilead, which was formed in January 2005.

A group of about 50 residents met on Oct. 15, 1974, at the Norway Memorial Library for the purpose of organizing a historical society. Over the next three years, the group sponsored a number of events and lectures and became part of the town’s cultural life.

In September 1977, the Norway Savings Bank purchased the property on which its headquarters now stands and offered a house, then occupying the lot to the historical society, on condition that the building be moved to some other location.

Shortly after, the town donated a lot at the corner of Main and Whitman streets, and events proceeded. In order to become an owner of real estate, the group would need to incorporate, and the Norway Historical Society took on its present legal identity on Nov. 7, 1977.

The society’s new home, known as the Mark Pool Smith House after its original owner, hosted its first historical society meeting on Jan. 16, 1980, but it took two more years to refurbish and outfit the premises to a condition that would allow it to open to the public as a museum.

In this double anniversary year, the society hopes to attract new members, who will help the organization remain an active part of downtown life.

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