Lee Dassler, executive director of the Western Foothills Land Trust, points out construction features of the original farmhouse at Roberts Farm Preserve in August 2021, as disassembly of the 200-year-old farmhouse began. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

NORWAY — Two years ago, the Western Foothills Land Trust made the difficult decision to tear down the historic 1823 farmhouse that stood at the Roberts Farm Preservation.

Disassembly began soon after and by last fall the structure was gone. What could not be safely reclaimed was demolished.

Layers of locals have benefitted from the process of salvaging the 200-year-old farmhouse, which spent much of the 20th century in neglect before it was struck by fire that previous owner Peter Lenz was unable to recover from.

The land trust held on to some pieces, including hardware and framing pegs. It also kept irreplaceable interior features like doors and mantles, and wainscoting crafted from single, wide boards. Granite from the foundation will be used to hardscape the grounds where future education buildings will be built.

Megan Smith of Craft Smith Designs in Norway oversaw the salvage and demolition of the Roberts Fam. She is pictured here last summer, surveying the site before the excavators moved in to remove unusable materials. Supplied photo

Megan Smith, principal of Craft Smith Designs in Norway, became responsible for reclaiming all of the framing and sheaving materials possible. Now she is designing custom wood furniture that guarantees the legacy of Roberts Farm will live on in homes throughout Oxford Hills.

From the land trust to contractors, subcontractors and retailers, and finally residents of the area, Roberts Farm continues to provide for and support its community.


“I have always searched out reclaimed boards and I like their history,” Smith said of what attracted her to the Roberts Farm salvage project. “Brick & Mortar in Norway was opening at about the same time, and we thought it was a great way to sell the pieces right in town.”

Smith specializes in interior and furniture design. She has already designed several pieces that South Paris woodworker Andy Pinkham has crafted into one-of-a-kind pieces sold at Brick & Mortar in Norway and through her own online shop. She also works with clients one on one to custom design furniture according to specific uses and spaces in their homes.

A dining room table, constructed from lumber that used to be part of the Roberts Farm house in Norway Supplied photo

Characteristics of the lumber that connect it to its 200 years of previous use are important to retain. Worm, beetle and nail holes are enhanced. Scratches on the boards — Roman numerals — made in the 19th century by the Roberts farmhouse builders became focal points. And the tracks of marks caused by the primitive and cumbersome process of pit-sawing were preserved.

Each item is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity that links it back to the farmhouse.

Brendan Colter, owner of Brick & Mortar, has sold several furniture pieces that have come out of the old farmstead.

“I have tremendous respect for the work put into this project,” he said. “The pieces Megan and Andy have produced are a real show of respect to the legacy the original builders of Roberts Farm created. For anyone who cares about local tradition or has connections to the area, they are able to keep its history alive.”


South Paris woodworker Andy Pinkham rummages through materials salvaged from Roberts Farm in Norway. He is using the lumber to craft unique reclaim furniture, designed by Megan Smith of Craft Smith Designs. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

The blemishes of the wood, hidden for centuries within the farmhouse, are reimagined in a way that continues to tell the story of Maine’s rural traditions. Pinkham said he has spent countless hours removing the original square-head nails from the wood and repurposing them for furniture construction.

The lion’s share of materials Smith has on hand is Maine pine. There is also ample oak, which was used as timber-framing for the farmhouse. Even charred wood, damaged by the 2004 fire that halted Lenz’s restoration of the house, is part of the collection Smith has conserved for new life.

Some of the reclaimed furniture Smith and Pinkham have collaborated on is on display at Brick & Mortar. Other pieces are part of Craft Smith Designs’ inventory, with examples posted on Smith’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theprimitivecraftsmith. Anyone who wishes to make a piece of Roberts Farm history part of their home in a special manner should contact Craft Smith Designs at 207-461-2422.

Wormholes, hash marks and saw blade patterns help retell the story of Norway’s historic Roberts Farm. Supplied photo


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