LOVELL — A new commercial building is rising at the site of one of the community’s most cherished buildings that burned last winter. 

The site of the 1838 Stearns, Hall & Walker Building on Main Street, once considered the hub of village life, was sold in June to John Smith of Sweden, according to Stan Tupaj, owner of Kezar Realty, which was housed in the building at the time of the fire.

“What I thought was going to be a vacant lot for a long, long time has developed into a very nice addition/improvement to Lovell Village,” Tupaj said.

The 2½-story wood-framed building was engulfed in flames on Feb. 9. Some 60 firefighters from five surrounding towns kept the flames from taking down other nearby structures, including the town library, the Lovell Brick Church and other historic buildings.

The building, which housed the post office and general store for years, was considered a major loss, not only to the five owners and businesses housed there, but to the community who viewed it as the town’s early unofficial community center.

“It’s a high-visibility property. There’s been a tremendous amount of interest and conversation about it,” Smith said. He purchased the property after seeing the “For Sale” signs during his daily trips downtown for breakfast at the nearby Lovell Village Store and Restaurant, more popularly known as “Rosie’s.”

Smith said he immediately knew what he wanted to do with the site: Rebuild it, keeping with the historical nature of the downtown area.

While the original 110- by 45-foot building could not be replicated, Smith set about in early July to start construction on a smaller commercial building that will be wrapped in white-stained, red cedar clapboards and green shutters. There will be two 1,000-square-foot units, with a total of 14 six-over-six windows and architectural shingles, in the same style as the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library across the street, Smith said.

The building was made into five condominium business units in 1988. Tupaj was one of the building owners, as well as owner of one of two businesses in the building, when fire struck. He will relocate in the new building this fall and hopes to have an open house in late October. 

“I am looking forward to having Kezar Realty back where we started,” Tupaj said.

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