Heather Whitney, Norway Savings Bank Branch Supervisor in Bethel (left), and Jay Kiel, Vice President and Mortgage Loan Officer (right) present Amy Scott with a $5000 check at the Gehring House in Bethel, Maine. Norway Savings Bank photo

BETHEL — Norway Savings Bank has pledged $5,000 toward the renovation of the historic Gehring House in Bethel. Upon completion, the project will provide eight one- and two-bedroom year-round apartments, addressing one of the most critical issues currently facing communities like Bethel.

In December 2022, the Northern Forest Center, a New Hampshire-based organization dedicated to improving rural communities in Northern New England, purchased the 10,000 sq. ft. building and 8 acres of adjacent, undeveloped land. The Gehring House site is located within walking distance of all the amenities of downtown Bethel, as well as cross-country skiing, biking, and walking trails used widely by the community. The renovation will incorporate state-of-the-art energy efficiency systems and preserve historic building features. The additional acreage provides the opportunity to build more units in the future.

“In towns like Bethel, it has become increasingly difficult for middle-income residents to find affordable housing,” said Lila Thorne, Director of Development for the Northern Forest Center. “The eight units in the Gehring House are designed to retain and attract people and families.”

“We’re pleased to be able to help the Northern Forest Center with the Gehring House project,” said Dan Walsh, President and CEO of Norway Savings Bank. “The lack of affordable housing has become a critical issue in many of the communities we serve. It is our hope that this project will not only address the need but bring more attention to the issue.”

“We anticipate being able to start replacing the roof this fall,” said Amy Scott, a Program Manager with the Northern Forest Center who is based in Bethel. “It is our hope to have residents moving in by the end of 2025.”

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