NORWAY – The town and Norway Historical Society are being offered the Gingerbread House free of charge with only one stipulation: They must move it.

“I’ll give them some period of time; otherwise we’ll move to dismantle it,” said Ed Snook, treasurer of Sun Media Group, publisher of the Sun Journal and Advertiser-Democrat, who made the offer at the Norway Downtown monthly meeting last week.

The building will be given to the town if officials choose to accept it.

The move comes as little surprise. In July, Snook notified town officials that he intended to offer the house, which sits next to the Advertiser-Democrat building at 476 Main St., to the town by the end of the year.

The building was purchased by Sun Media in the spring of 2006 when the Costello family bought the Advertiser-Democrat weekly newspaper.

The house, 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 Historical Society records, the elaborate filigree that adorns the outside of the house was added after Cummings bought it. Some of the trim that fell over the years is believed to have been saved, according to Selectman Les Flanders.

The house was made into a museum in the 1940s by the last Cummings family to live in the building. Later, the building was converted into apartments until the Advertiser-Democrat acquired it.

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

Snook said he is sending the Historical Society a letter soon with his offer.

Local officials said they believe the house can be moved.

Flanders said he was in the building about a month ago. “Structurally, it’s not that bad,” he said.

Andrea Burns, president of Norway Downtown, said officials from Maine Preservation went through the house and said they believe it can be moved. “There was no rot except on the back porch,” she said.

Snook said moving the massive building intact is probably not feasible, but it can be partially dismantled for moving, then reassembled.

Flanders said the worst thing he saw in the house was the missing fancy ornamental trim from which the architectural term gingerbread is derived.

Selectwoman Irene Millett said that if the town chooses to keep it, the building should remain on Main Street.

The house is in a National Historic District, but nothing prevents the owner from tearing it down. A demolition ordinance could allow more time for interested parties to try to work out other options to save it, but no such ordinance has been proposed to voters.

The building and land were assessed at $36,600 last year. The assessment is based largely on the nearly half-an-acre of land, according to assessor records. The owner pays $603.90 in taxes for the property.


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