An excavator handles demolition material Feb. 1 at a 19th century homestead on Whitman Street in Norway. The half-acre lot is slated to be the site of 12 to 18 affordable housing units proposed by the Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

NORWAY — If a picture is worth a thousand words, the land at Pearl and Whitman streets in Norway says a lot about the future of affordable housing for the area.

The half-acre lot is the location of a future residentowned housing complex of 12 to 18 units with one, two or three bedrooms at 33-35 Whitman St. Construction is estimated to exceed $2 million.

Gone is the homestead and carriage shop built in one century that slowly became a ramshackle landmark the next. The buildings were constructed in 1889 by George Bennett, who lived there and operated a carriage repair and painting business. Ashley Everett lived there from 1927 until his death in 2018 at age 90.

The Center for Ecology-Based Economy on Main Street established the Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative in 2021 to develop a cooperative housing project. The cooperative will operate as a limited equity housing cooperative governed by bylaws. Each household will hold a voting share in the organization.

A site plan by Kaplan Thompson Architects of Portland shows the layout of the future Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative complex on Whitman Street in Norway.  The lot will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, a common house, playground and community gardens. Courtesy Center for an Center for an Ecology-Based Economy

Scott Vlaun, executive director of the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy, talked about the cooperative with a member of Everett’s extended family, Scott Everett, owner of Everett Excavation Co. in Norway.

The cooperative chose the site during its working group research and purchased the property from Mike and Tom Dignan, Ashley Everett’s nephews. The family agreed on a price of $70,000, as is, with the cooperative assuming the responsibility for removing hazardous materials and demolition.


The multi-phase project received an anonymous $70,000 donation in May 2023, allowing the cooperative to purchase the property while it continued fundraising to remove asbestos and demolish the main house, abutting carriage shop and outbuildings.

Scott Everett and his father were given the opportunity to go through the house and recovered numerous personal belongings, like old family photographs and correspondence detailing life for Ashley and his relatives in Norway during the World Wars and Great Depression eras. Scott Everett bid on the demolition after learning about it during a recent discussion with Vlaun and won the contract.

Everett Excavation Co. of Norway takes down the main house of ancestor Ashley Everett on Feb. 1 on Whitman Street in Norway. The half-acre lot is being redeveloped into 12 to 18 units of affordable housing by the Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative of Norway. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

Vlaun said the project is in its third phase of applying for construction money and Planning Board approval.

“Now that we’ve cleared those milestones and have the property with no liabilities on it, we’re seeking predevelopment funding,” he said, “which will cover site engineering and the rest of the architectural work needed for permitting.”

Demolition debris is piled next to an excavator Feb. 1 after a 19th century home and carriage shop were taken down to make way for an affordable housing project by the Norway Equitable Housing Cooperative of Norway. The homestead was built by George Bennett in 1889 and was last occupied by Ashley Everett who died in 2018 at the age of 90. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

The cooperative plans to pursue financing through the Genesis Fund, a Brunswick organization that specializes in affordable housing and community support projects, and the Cooperative Development Institute, a regional nonprofit based in Massachusetts with a mission to create and sustain democratically owned, cooperative enterprises and networks.

Kaplan Thompson Architects of Portland is working on the site plan and design and Main-Land Development Consultants of Falmouth and Livermore Falls is doing site surveys. Building contractor Maine Passive House of Bethel is providing technical and construction assistance.


The cooperative hopes to utilize MaineHousing’s Rural Affordable Housing Rental Program to help pay for the project. It’s the same pilot program that will help convert the long-vacant Odd Fellows building on Main Street into a combination of affordable housing and commercial space.

Once applications are completed, Vlaun said, he expects Planning Board approval to take about four months.

“We’d love to hear from people who are interested in being resident owners of the cooperative,” he said.

For more information or to contribute to the project, visit CEBE’s website.

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