NORWAY – Town Manager David Holt said this week that the town attorney advised him the two cases involving the town’s takeover of the Opera House have been combined.

The cases involved the town’s offer of $185,000 to Bitim Enterprises of Londonderry, N.H., for the damaged building, and Barry Mazzaglia’s response contending it’s worth more. Mazzaglia owns Bitim Enterprises and paid $225,000 for it in 2003.

An Oxford County Superior Court judge consolidated the cases and a hearing date for them has not been announced.

The town took ownership of the deteriorating three-story brick edifice on Main Street this year by eminent domain. The move came nearly three years after the roof partially collapsed and efforts by Mazzaglia failed to stabilize the 1894 building in the heart of downtown.

Town officials continue to move forward with plans to make it structurally safe. Two engineering studies have deemed the Opera House to be “unsafe to the public and neighboring property.”

A total of $150,000 from a Community Development Block Grant will be used to shore up the back wall.


Although the total rehabilitation of the Opera House is considered a multiyear, multimillion-dollar task, officials say the town will stabilize it before finding a new owner with resources to renovate it.

The building is named by Maine Preservation as one of the state’s most endangered historic properties.

The Opera House was built by the Norway Building Association, then owned by the town from 1920 to the mid-1970s, and then by a succession of private owners for the past 30 years or so.

The ballroom and balcony on the upper floors played host to the community life of Norway, including concerts, balls, traveling minstrel shows, theater performances, National Guard musters, town meetings and high school graduation ceremonies. The top stories have been unused since a movie theater closed in the 1970s, and the five ground-floor storefronts have had occupants off and on over the years.

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