FAIRFIELD – Historic buildings often seem to harbor a mystery or two in the echoes and dust of empty rooms and shuttered windows.

At the former Gerald Hotel on Main Street, which closed in 1937, there are stories of ghosts roaming the upper floors, of missing ornate domes that once decorated the roof and of missing balconies — balconies on which Franklin Delano Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan once spoke.

Solving the mysteries of the missing domes and balconies could go a long way to getting federal historic recognition of the place, said Tom Munson, a real estate broker from Fairfield, who is trying to sell the old building.

But there is a more recent mystery.

A mural of a young woman, attended by a cherub at a marble pool, once graced the wall of the grand dining hall of the hotel.

Kerri Davis, a photographer and videographer from Fairfield Center, shot video footage of the dining room in 2006, before the building was sold at auction. The mural was still in place, mounted above a mantlepiece, when the previous owner, Northern Mattress & Furniture, finally shut its doors, she said.

“The painting in the dining hall is gone,” Davis said. “Someone sold it and literally cut it out of the wall. Now it is just a brown square. Somebody actually cut it out and took it with them.

“I think the mural should have stayed with the building. It was made for that hotel; it should be destroyed with the hotel if it is indeed the building’s destiny.”

Subsequent videos taken by Davis show the dining room, with an open space on the wall where the mural once hung. The videos can be viewed on YouTube under “The Gerald Hotel.”

Mark McPheters at the Fairfield Historical Society said he, too, has pictures of the mural, but was unaware that it had been removed from the dining hall.

Munson said he and the building’s owners, Liberdade Sunrise LLC of Windham, put the hotel back on the market in March. Munson said he has no knowledge of the mural, but is interested in gathering information on the other mysteries of the Gerald Hotel — the missing domes and balconies.

Said Munson: “We’re trying to get on the historic register right now, and the reason is that a developer can get a 45 percent tax credit for it being a historic property, so getting it on the historic register is a huge thing in terms of saving the Gerald.”

The hotel was built in 1900 by Amos F. Gerald, builder of the first electric train system in Maine and the first electric light plant in the state.

The Gerald Hotel was listed in 2007 by Maine Preservation as one of the state’s most endangered historic properties.


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