NORWAY — The 1894 Odd Fellows Hall matters.

So much so that just before the start of the annual Norway Arts Festival almost two weeks ago, Downtown Norway President Andrea Burns decided to stick a sign on the first-floor picture window of the vacant building that states, “This Building Matters.”

“I put it there,” Burns said of the paper sign from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2008 ongoing “This Place Matters” campaign. “I found it in our archives and I decided for the arts festival, I’m going to put it there.”

The message is simple and direct, intended by the National Trust to be a tool to advocate on behalf of historic places nationwide about the importance of preservation.

The Odd Fellows Hall was named one of Maine’s 10 most endangered historic places by Maine Preservation of Portland in 2013.

Burns is one of a group of people who have advocated for the preservation of buildings within the Norway Downtown Historic District, including the Odd Fellows Hall, the Norway Opera House and, more recently, the L.F. Pike & Son store, the future of which is now uncertain following a roof collapse last winter.


The “This Place Matters” campaign signs are a trademark of the National Trust available to nonprofit groups and by permission to profit groups in many languages, including English, Spanish, French, Dutch and Japanese.

The campaign started with just a few photos of places that matter to a few individuals, according to the National Trust’s website. Now there are scores of photos uploaded from folks across the country.

In July 2013, building owner Sam Patel was notified by Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman that the town would take legal action because the broken windows were a public hazard. The eight broken second-story windows and the lower half of the eight third-story windows were eventually covered with plywood.

But by June of this year, pigeons were re-entering the building through broken windows on the back wall, leaving mounds of pigeon droppings on the wooden floors.

There is no action against the owner, said Norway Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman this week.

Patel, a retailer in southern Maine, purchased the empty, partially renovated, three-story brick building in December 2012 from TD Bank. It was transferred to Patel’s limited liability company, Jasmin LLC, on Dec. 14, 2012. Since then, no action has been taken to reuse it.


A study of Odd Fellows Hall by Resurgence Engineering and Preservation of Portland several years ago indicated it would cost more than $800,000 to fully renovate the building.

The basement and first floor were built in 1894 after the “Great Fire” destroyed much of the downtown business district. The other floors were added in 1910. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of Norway’s historic downtown district.

The third floor contained a high-ceiling ceremonial space for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Norway Lodge No. 16, which owned the building during the 19th century. The second floor had a kitchen and large dining area, along with law offices and a courthouse. The first floor traditionally has been storefronts.

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