The old Hollis High School and Bar Mills School have been saved from demolition, thanks to the concerted efforts of a few concerned citizens, and we’re glad to see their hard work has paid off.

The Maine School Administrative District 6 School Board voted Monday, March 18, to lease the old Bar Mills School to the Buxton-Hollis Historical Society. It’s heartening to see that this was a unanimous vote, with the school district giving its full support. This is a building the society has been trying to preserve for many years, and now it will become its central home for a mere $12 annual lease.

Meanwhile, the former Hollis High School is also going to be preserved, in its own way. The building is set to be sold on the open market, but will have a preservation easement on it requiring the owner to retain the building’s historical character, especially on the exterior.

The Maine Historic Preservation Commission oversees the application of such provisions, and helps insure that future owners are respectful of the historical value of the building. The historical easement also opens the possibility of tax exemptions and grants, which could make the building more attractive to a buyer.

The historical society and the Community Heritage Alliance of Rural Maine, known as CHARM, have worked hard since 2011 to advocate for these buildings to be preserved.

Voters didn’t side with them at the annual Hollis Town Meeting, voting down a measure that would have set aside money to preserve and find appropriate uses for the buildings. But the two groups powered on, pursuing negotiations with the school board, and have found success.

Historical preservation is expensive, which is a good part of why the vote failed back in 2011, and the historical society will no doubt be looking for financial support from those who see the value in preserving this building.

As we said when the vote was taking place, however, there is no substitute for having actual buildings in place to show future generations what life used to be like. The mill buildings, schools and homes of bygone eras speak volumes more than any photograph or article ever could ”“ and they cannot be replaced once they are gone.

This agreement between the school board and historic preservation advocates is a great compromise that will keep both of these buildings standing for years to come, without the town putting an extra tax burden on taxpayers. We hope the future buyer of the high school building is respectful of what it means to the town and can find an appropriate use to bring it back to life once again.


Today’s editorial was written by Managing Editor Kristen Schulze Muszynski on behalf of the Journal Tribune Editorial Board. Questions? Comments? Contact Kristen by calling 282-1535, Ext. 322, or via email at [email protected].