NORWAY — It’s been so many years since the walls of the historic Norway Grange No. 45 have been painted that the colors could only be described by those who saw them  as “hideous” and “horrible.”

This year a decision was made that decades of grime and dirt, faded and nondescript wall colors would be removed from the interior of the 1909 Grange home on Whitman Street.

In February, Tom Littlefield of Littlefield Decorating in Paris was hired by the Grange to transform the interior walls that he believes were last painted in the 1950s.

But what color?

“We wanted to go with the historic beauty of the building,” Grange member Julie Emerson said of the decision to paint the dining hall in several shades of green and the upstairs hall a slate blue to offset the deep blue curtains and the blues in the Vivian Akers stage-curtain painting.

 While the upstairs was already a blue color,  it was washed out and grimy.

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“The blue blends right into the (curtain) drops,” said Littlefield, who repaired the plaster walls  and wooden window trim and sills. “That was an easy choice.” 

The downstairs color was hard to discern, Emerson said. “It was very dirty and faded.”

“Downstairs used to be a horrible, washed-out yellow,” Littlefield said. “We took advantage of the rail chair and used three colors, including white, on the heat risers by the kitchen.”

Many Grange halls have been abandoned. But Norway has not only managed to continue its Grange tradition but, in recent years, to maintain and even improve the building, using funds garnered through rental of the building to the Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association theater group and other organizations.

The repair and painting of the interior walls, which are expected to be completed soon, is part of an ongoing renovation of the entire building that has taken place in the last few years.

The work has included the installation of a new furnace and the building’s first hot water heater, painting the exterior of the now green-and-white building and the repair of the 1909 stained-glass window that was designed by local artist Vivian Akers, among other things.

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The Grange was designed by the Lewiston architectural firm of Coombs and Gibbs of Lewiston and built in 1909 for the sum of $8,000 by G.A. Russell of Auburn.

It was considered a “new era” in Grange buildings for its magnificent architectural details, including a dome with 10 feet of aperture around a circle of electric lights, and an 18- by 38-foot-deep stage in the upper hall with a stage curtain depicting a Lake Pennesseewassee landscape, painted by Vivian Akers.

Akers also designed the stained-glass windows, which show the old one-room schoolhouse on Pikes Hill.

The Grange Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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