A year ago, Selma Nelson was surrounded by a half dozen houses and lots of trees. On Monday, when this photo was taken, the only thing around her is construction workers and vehicles.

LEWISTON — When Bates College set out to build new dorms for its burgeoning student population, they approached homeowners abutting the campus with offers to buy their houses.

One of those homeowners said she wasn’t interested in selling.

So, Bates is building around her — literally.

[UPDATE: Bates College: There grows the neighborhood]

Selma Nelson, who will turn 85 next week, is staying put in her two-story white clapboard house on Franklin Street.

Her son, James Nelson, who lives in Harpswell, likens the scenario to the animated movie “Up,” in which an elderly man hunkers down in his humble home as the city builds up around him.

Contractors have broken ground for the planned two four-story brick buildings situated between Bardwell and Franklin streets and between Franklin Street and Central Avenue. The dorms, scheduled for completion next year, are expected to hold roughly 230 beds, providing needed relief for the college’s overcrowded student housing.

James Nelson’s parents built their four-bedroom house in 1963, and Selma Nelson has lived there since, he said Tuesday. Her ex-husband, David, an English professor at Bates College, died two years ago.

Selma Nelson was well known in the community, having taught English to the upper levels at Lewiston High School for 35 years before retiring.

James Nelson and his sister, Stephanie, now in their 50s, moved out long ago. James is a published author with more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction books to his name; his sister is dean of the core curriculum at Boston University.

In her retirement, Selma Nelson spends her time reading literature and hosting visits from her grandchildren.

James Nelson said his family had talked to administrators at Bates College on and off over the years about their interest in the family home.

“My mother really loves that house,” James Nelson said. “She’s just never been interested in moving out.”

The college had offered to buy her house at fair market value and allow her to remain in the home as long as she wanted, but she turned them down.

“She wanted to keep the house,” James Nelson said. Once his mother is no longer able to live in the house, “it’s most likely going to go to Bates, I would think, particularly if they build dorms around it,” making it less appealing for sale as a single-family residence, he said.

Despite his mother’s reluctance to move, “Bates has really been very decent about this whole thing,” James Nelson said.

“They’ve kept us informed through every step of the process. They’ve made absolutely sure that Mom’s house has been protected,” he said.

“We really have no grievance with Bates at all. They’ve been very good about everything they’ve done.”

His mother “is not crazy about” the ongoing construction around her and its accompanying din, “but, luckily, her hearing is not what it used to be,” James Nelson said.

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