The Buxton Food Pantry and the Buxton-Hollis Historical Society are looking for permanent homes, and the fate of the former home of the two organizations will likely be decided by voters.

The two organizations have been without a home since a storm in October caused the ceiling to collapse at the old town hall. The question of whether to fix the old building is expected to come up at the town meeting in June.

The town’s insurance company has barred anyone from entering the old town hall, according to Selectman Bob Libby. An architect who inspected the building for the town estimated repairs could cost as much as $300,000.

The two organizations have found temporary shelter. In the meantime, selectmen have taken up the cause of helping the two organizations find a permanent home.

“Our food pantry needs a home,” Selectman Jean Harmon said in a televised plea during last week’s selectmen’s meeting.

The food pantry, which fed 600 families last year, has temporarily relocated to space donated by Plummer’s Store in a former doctor’s office in the shopping complex at the intersection of routes 22 and 112. “We’re lucky to get this,” said Gwen Hatch, food pantry president, Tuesday.

The Buxton-Hollis Historical Society is in a similar situation. Brent Hill, president of the society, said the Moderation Center, an office building in West Buxton, is donating operational space. But the society is still seeking more storage for its collection and a permanent home besides.

Hill said none of its collection, including glass display cases and china plates, was damaged when the ceiling collapsed. “Our main concern is preserving things we can’t replace,” Hill told selectmen last month.

Hill said this week much of its collection of town records, genealogies and artifacts have been packed in boxes at the old town hall. He said the society planned to begin moving some of those records out of the old town hall on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The old town hall was built in 1871 on land donated by a town resident. It sits on a small lot wedged between the Hanson School gym and the Buxton Center Baptist Church. The food pantry and the historical society moved into the building in 1995, two years after the town moved its offices into the present town hall on Portland Road.

The architect hired by the town reported that a “structural failure” in the timber framework allowed the ceiling to collapse on Oct. 29.

The building sits on stone posts. Harmon said the foundation is unstable. Selectmen have declared the building unsafe and posted do not enter signs at doorways.

Libby said the roof of the building is in “very poor” condition. He also said water runs under the old town hall from the hill between it and the adjacent school gym.

“You could build a brand new one for the cost to fix it,” Libby said.

It’s located in a village zone that includes the church, historic homes and a one-room school restored by the historical society. However, Libby said the building is not on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’ll let the people decide,” Libby said.

Cutline (old BUX town hall 1) (old BUX town hall 3)


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