A 165-year-old Norway landmark is getting by with a little help from some friends.

Once considered beyond repair and scheduled to be razed, The Gingerbread House at 500 Main St. is slowly being restored to its former glory.

Built in the 1850s for the Richard Evans family, the home was later sold to C.B. Cummings, founder of the town’s defunct dowel mill, C.B. Cummings & Sons Co., which made wooden parts for Tinker Toys and the tiny houses for the Hasbo board game Monopoly.

The fancy gingerbread trim was added in 1885, with a second-floor porch and more trim work added in 1907.

The house later was home to the two daughters of Civil War Maj. Gen. George L. Beal before it was converted into apartments.

For the past 30 years, the old Victorian has exclusively served as a storage facility. Though the grand old home still had all of its original interior features, many of its windows were broken and its once beautiful facade left weathered and unkempt.


The house survived a devastating 1894 fire that wiped out many of the town’s older buildings, but was eventually considered a fire hazard and marked for demolition.

In a last-ditch attempt to save the house, its owners, the Costello family, offered it to the Norway Historical Society at no cost if it agreed to devise a restoration plan for the house and have it moved to another property. The organization initially assumed responsibility for the home but it had no financial means or desire to care for the structure or refurbish it.

At that point, the Norway Landmarks Preservation Society was formed to save the historic home, doing business as Friends of the Gingerbread House.

Friends treasurer and board member Ann Siekman said the organization has since overseen several efforts to raise cash and awareness to restore the home.

“Our first project was to have professionals inspect the house to see if it was structurally sound enough to move,” Siekmen said. “We were told that it was well-built, in incredibly good condition and worth saving.”

In 2009, the house was lifted from its original foundation for a journey of about 900 feet up Main Street.


Many fundraisers have been held to complete successive phases of the restoration work since that move.

The structure sits on a new foundation and has a new roof, thanks to a successful “Buy a Bundle” roof shingle campaign. Electric and sewer lines were installed and the property landscaped. Now, old shingles and original clapboard siding are being repaired and the exterior painted as money becomes available.

The historical society is now attempting to have the building’s windows refurbished; so far, 10 are done, and another eight are being restored by Bagala Window Works of Westbrook.

The process requires stripping the windows of old paint and glazing (or caulking), then priming, painting and reinstalling them at the house, using their original weights, along with new sash cords and weather stripping. Any broken window panes are replaced with found, old glass whenever possible.

“Marc Bagala (owner of the shop), is the best man in the state for window restoration,” said Siekman. “The windows are absolutely exquisite when they are finished.”

Sponsors are being sought to complete the remaining 22 windows, at a cost of $500 each.


A special Sponsor Tour and Reception will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the house for those wanting to help with the effort.

“We are particularly interested in encouraging sponsor donations at $500 each, but we welcome any donation, however large or small, to continue to restore all of the windows,” Siekman said.

Contributions may be made during the event or mailed to: Friends of the Gingerbread House, P.O. Box 525, Norway, ME 04268, or made through PayPal at www.gingerbreadhousenorway.org.

“(The Gingerbread House) has great sentimental value to many local people,” Siekman said. “It is a beautiful, very well-built structure with interesting interior features in its doorways, stairways, window frames and fireplaces. The house has a character and charm all its own.”


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