NORWAY – The owner of the Odd Fellows building on Main Street is offering two large antique steel safes to anyone who has access to a crane, will sign a waiver and is willing to give a donation to a nonprofit organization that assists children with special needs.

“They have to get a crane,” said Harvey Solomon, who along with his wife, Dawn, purchased the building and is renovating it. In the process, they discovered several antique safes and a few other items, such as an antique piano, that need to be moved from the building.

The crane is to remove the upright safes that are about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Solomon said the safes must go out a third floor window. Because the back wall, with its multiple windows, is coming down for reconstruction, a broken window will not be a problem to get the safe out, he said.

“You can’t go out down the stairs. It (the safe) would go right through the floor,” he said.

Whoever takes the safes must sign a waiver that he or she is responsible for any damage to the building and that the building owner is not responsible for any damage to the person trying to get the safes out.

Solomon said they’re also looking for the person who takes the safes to make a donation to the couple’s nonprofit Western Maine Enrichment Fund that helps special needs children in the area.

The safes appear to be from two different periods. One is a plain steel four-drawer safe on rollers that does not have any visible date on it but has an attached plate that reads General Fireproofing Company of Youngstown, Ohio. It is assumed it was manufactured after 1902, the year the General Fireproofing Company was founded in Youngstown. According to information on the company archives, the first fireproof safe was introduced in 1912.

The second more ornate safe has a notice in one of its drawers that reads in part, “When your safe has been through a hot fire, do not open it until it is thoroughly cooled.”

The pictures on the four outside panels appear to be hand-painted in oil and depict landscapes. The inside of the doors are painted green with floral designs.

Besides the safes, Solomon is looking to unload an upright piano that plays but is in need of tuning and perhaps some other work. It has a limited, but ornate, inlay wood carving on either side of the front. Other items, such as the 19th-century or early 20th-century lighting fixtures may be offered for a donation to the nonprofit organization.

The only other items in the gutted interior are heavy wooden interior doors, many of which have lettering on them such as Albert J. Stearn, Law Office, which should allow for dating the doors. Solomon said he is not sure whether he can use any of them during his renovations but would like to if possible to retain some of the historical integrity.

The basement and first floor of the Odd Fellows building, which is next to the three-story brick Opera House, was built in 1894 after the great fire that year destroyed the majority of the downtown. The second and third floors were added in 1911.

The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the historic downtown district. The interior, which once housed the district court, a jail and other businesses, has been gutted and only the floors remain.


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