The John F. Murphy office is situated next to the former Evergreen Subaru building. The Androscoggin County commissioners agreed Wednesday to purchase the JFM building and relocate its offices there. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Commission voted Wednesday to make an offer to purchase the building at 800 Center St. and move its operations there from the county courthouse at Court and Turner streets.

The building at 800 Center St. is currently occupied by John F. Murphy Homes.

If the two sides come to an agreement and the sale is finalized, it would move the county’s administrative offices into a building located next to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, which is scheduled to move next door at 774 Center St., the former Evergreen Subaru building.

The new facility will include all of the county administrative offices, including the treasurer’s office, the Registry of Deeds and the Register of Probate office and courtroom. Also moving into the new location are the facility’s office and the IT department.

Sheriff department divisions scheduled to move into the former Subaru building next door include the administrative offices, and the patrol, criminal investigation, communications and civil divisions.

The jail is staying at 40 Pleasant St.


The District Attorney’s Office and the Emergency Management Agency are in Lewiston.

The move will save county taxpayers an abundance of money, Commission Chairman Sally Christner said. There will be plenty of parking, something lacking at its present location. It is unlikely that the building will require major upgrades to the facility as the current courthouse does.

Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to purchase the building. ARPA funds must be allocated by the end of 2024 or the county will lose what money remains.

The county bought the former Subaru building for $4.5 million in February 2022.

The 1857 Androscoggin County Courthouse complex at Court and Turner streets in Auburn includes the main entrance to the courthouse, far left, the entrance to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, center left, and the more recent multistory jail addition, far right. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

The Androscoggin County Courthouse has housed county government offices since it opened in 1857.

Growing frustration with the ballooning cost to revamp the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system at the Androscoggin County Courthouse and Jail, which the county and engineers have spent more than two years attempting to finalize an estimate, forced commissioners to consider other options.


Originally expected to cost less than $3 million when the HVAC upgrades were first proposed, the estimate grew to $5 million. In February 2023, the lone bid on the project totaled more than $8 million, which stunned county officials. A project manager is working with the county to cut the bid to $5.5 million, but officials have struggled to reach that price.

In April 2023, Commissioner Garrett Mason of Lisbon questioned the millions of dollars being spent to upgrade the complex. He added that he saw a need to have a conversation about a potential new building.

The historic court house will not be torn down as the county appreciates the historic character of the structure.

Commissioner Mason floated the idea at Wednesday’s meeting of setting up a significant revolving loan fund of perhaps a $1 million for a developer to access to create apartments in the facility.

“This would put a significant amount of property back on the tax rolls,” Mason said.

He added that it was important to maintain the building since it is a major section of the city’s skyline.

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