NORWAY — Renovations are continuing this week to stabilize and save the Lajos Matolcsy Arts Center building on Main Street.

Members of the Western Maine Art Group, owners of the building at 480 Main Street, moved out late last year after the second floor was condemned. The group has since opened a gallery at 426 Main Street while renovations are underway at the Matolcsy Arts Center.

Jim Boyce of J. Boyce Builders of Norway previously was hired to remove five large windows. The winders were placed in the building when it was renovated as a schoolhouse and showed the extent and reason for some of the damage that has necessitated the major renovation, he said.

Boyce said it appears the support beams on the post and beam building were cut in order to put the large windows in the wall when the building became the Upper Primary School.

That move compromised the second floor support and hinged the building’s eastern wall, he said. Those beams have now been replaced as part of the project.

Boyce said the work should be completed over the next several weeks.

In March of 2012, the town of Norway unsuccessfully applied for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant in an effort to save the historic building, which opened as the Upper Primary School in 1866.

The building replaced an 1805 school that burned in 1866. The school was closed in 1967 and purchased by the Western Maine Art Group for use as a gallery and teaching center. It is named for Lajos Matolcsy, who co-founded the Art Group.

The nonprofit Western Maine Art Group was awarded several grants for the architect’s feasibility study to proceed with renovations on the 19th-century former one-room schoolhouse. It is in need of major structural renovations, updated heating, plumbing and electrical systems and handicapped access to the second floor, according to grant information.

In 1967, WMAG founded the annual Norway Sidewalk Art Show, the first and longest running show of its kind in the region, which is currently part of the summer Norway Arts Festival.

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