Linc Merrill, left, Katie Murphy, Mark Heath, Jeanne Chadbourne and Martha Leggat have been members of the North Yarmouth Historical Society’s Old Town House subcommittee. The society has begun fundraising to move the 1853 structure to the Village Center. File

NORTH YARMOUTH — A voyage by the Old Town House to the center of town, due to occur later this year, may resemble something of a parade.

The North Yarmouth Historical Society, which owns the structure built in 1853 at 470 Memorial Highway (Route 9), plans to move it 2.2 miles southwest to 475 Walnut Hill Road (Route 115), where Wescustogo Hall stood for decades until it was destroyed in a 2013 fire.

The roof, which needs to be replaced, will be removed, and Copp Movers will cut the building into two pieces for transport via flatbed truck.

“It’s going to be sort of a parade,” North Yarmouth Historical Society President Katie Murphy said in an interview Dec. 26.

Murphy said an arborist will travel ahead to ensure the building pieces can pass by any overhanging tree branches, and Central Maine Power will be involved in case the caravan encounters any issues with wires.

“We think that this (can) be done without having to do any moving of wires, or taking down any utilities,” Murphy said, which will be cost savings. It also means avoiding headaches for Route 9 residents who’d rather not have their services cut.

Town Meeting voters in April 2019 approved the historical society’s $1 lease of the now-vacant Wescustogo property in exchange for transferring the 0.25-acre Route 9 parcel next to Old Town House Park to the town.

The society now needs to raise approximately $250,000 to complete the project’s first phase, which includes stabilizing the 1,550-square-foot structure, digging and pouring a foundation at the new site, and moving the building onto the foundation. In addition to a new roof, the Old Town House will also get a facelift, insulation and plumbing. The downstairs will provide space for the society’s archives, which have long been crowded into an area at the fire-rescue station.

The historical society will “have ample space for storage and for working on our materials,” said Murphy, who ideally would like the move to occur in May.

The second and final phase, which could cost another $750,000, would, in part, comprise construction of a roughly 800-square-foot extension with a foundation. That will allow for public workspace and programming, as well as research and reference areas. The funds would also include an endowment for future expenses.

Residents Dixie Hayes, Martha Leggat and Linc Merrill are planning an aggressive fundraising campaign through this spring.

Although the campaign has yet to officially launch, the effort had already received a $25,000 anonymous donation, Hayes said. A PayPal link is due soon to be posted on northyarmouth.org, the town’s website, and Hayes can be reached at 829-3186 for donations as well.

“We haven’t asked for anything yet,” Hayes said, adding that the society is working with a professional fundraiser on the project. “It’s safe to say that within the month of January, the fundraising team will be reaching out to potential donors.”

The Old Town House “is dear the hearts of many,” Murphy said, recalling the building’s regular usage in years past for annual holiday parties, small weddings and as a school and a meeting place for organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. It has electricity but no running water, although it does have access to an outhouse.

Ceiling structural issues forced the building to be closed to the public several years ago, but Murphy looks forward to its reuse someday soon, this time with community assets nearby like the new Wescustogo Hall & Community Center, Skyline Farm and North Yarmouth Veterans Memorial Park.

Beyond the society’s focus on the building’s move, the organization plans to review its mission: “things that we do for the community, and things that we plan to do … once we have a home that’s functional,” Murphy said. That involves increased programming, inviting all ages from students to seniors into the space.

“It’s this really exciting vision of what the town Village Center will be,” she said.

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