PARIS — An 18th century house at 103 Main St. has been sold to McLaughlin Garden & Homestead next door.

Koriene Low, whose family owned the property, sold it to The McLaughlin Foundation on Oct. 18, according to three warranty deeds recorded at the Oxford County Registry of Deeds.

The McLaughlin Foundation runs the McLaughlin Garden and Homestead, a nonprofit public garden listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In July, Low signed a purchase and sale agreement for the property with Hunt Acquisitions, a Tampa, Fla.-based real estate company that purchases property for Family Dollar. The company planned to replace the house with a retail store and a 25-car parking lot, according to a site plan review application submitted to the Planning Board in August. 

Instead, after nearly two months of negotiations with representatives of Hunt Acquisitions, it was sold to The McLaughlin Foundation, which has long harbored interest in acquiring the space.

“This is an opportunity for the community to create an expanded green space to foster innovative development that will attract visitation, investment and strengthen the local economy,” the Foundation’s board of directors said in an written statement released Monday. 

“The Foundation will develop a comprehensive plan for the use of the land and buildings which will support the mission of the Garden and Homestead.”

Helga Thurston, chairwoman of the Foundation’s board of directors, said she did not have additional comment on Monday. 

In an email Tuesday, Bryn Winburn, a public relations manager for Family Dollar, said the decision not to pursue the development at 103 Main St. was a result of feedback from the community.

“After learning that the original location we chose was part of a historical site that meant so much to so many residents, we decided to look for a new site in South Paris,” Winburn said. The company has not signed a lease for a new store, she said.

The plan to build a Family Dollar next to the garden met with fierce opposition, particularly from environmental and conservation groups in the wider Oxford Hills community. 

A Planning Board public hearing on the proposal, scheduled in late August, was called off at the last minute and never rescheduled.

“At Family Dollar we see each store we open as an opportunity to provide convenience and value to the neighborhoods where our customers live and work, and we look forward to serving this new community,” Winburn said. “We feel that there are many residents who would benefit from this value and convenience, and we continue to look forward to becoming a positive part of South Paris.”

Family Dollar has a store near the intersection of Main and Alpine streets in Paris.

Lee Dassler, a founding Foundation member and former executive director, said n Monday that she was “thrilled” with the acquisition of the property. 

“I’m thrilled for South Paris as well,” she said. “I think this is a real keystone in South Paris realizing the potential restoration or at least preservation of Main Street.”

Expansion into the neighboring parcel was included in the Foundation’s “master plan” drawn up in 2004, according Dassler. A proposed design shows new planting beds, a small orchard and an open lawn for weddings and events.

The plans were a “vision” that was meant to make the Foundation’s board of directors look seriously at purchasing and preserving the property, but Dassler recognized the chances the property would become part of the gardens were slim.

“There was a 99 percent chance the property was going to go commercial,” Dassler said.

Disclosure: The writer’s partner is the operations manager of McLaughlin Garden & Homestead. 

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: