KENNEBUNKPORT – Citing building overhead and other finance-related considerations, the Kennebunkport Historical Society board of directors unanimously voted to sell the Pasco Center.

The Pasco Center, at 125 North St., was built in 1999. It is the headquarters of the society and holds the archival collection. The building, on  1.17 acres, is 2,000 square feet. The sale includes the barn and parking area and is listed at $569,000.

The Kennebunkport Historical Society board of directors recently voted to sell the Pasco Center. Dan King photo

The decision came as a surprise to some members of the historical society, who saw the property advertised by a local real estate firm. Member Sandy Severance, a former director and president of the society in the 1980s and ’90s, said there was no notice sent to the membership.

“Hopefully, some younger, capable people will come forward to try to save it,” Severance said. “We’re trying to save the headquarters from being sold from under us. It is the main archive now.”

Severance and some others organized a meeting for Tuesday, July 13.  An advertisement in the newspaper notes those planning the meeting at the Kennebunkport Fire Station were in the hopes the historical society board would attend the meeting to answer questions.

According to a letter to the membership on the Kennebunkport Historical Society website, the society owns three major buildings — Pasco Center, White Columns (aka, The Nott House) and Town House School.

“Annually, these three buildings generate significant overhead, exceeding combined revenue from the annual appeal, ad hoc donations, interest from the investment portfolio, and income from tours of White Columns and gift shop sales,” the letter states. “The Pasco Center costs the society approximately $20,000 to maintain each year. Pasco Center is also in need of approximately $100,000 worth of renovations.”

The letter goes on to say the board anticipates continued restoration of White Columns, which it described as have been in a vulnerable state of disrepair for some years.

“In short, Kennebunkport Historical Society cannot sustain and maintain three buildings and — at the same time — sustain through fiscally responsible management the Society’s future. A vote was taken, and it was unanimous: to sell the Pasco Center.”

When contacted by phone on Friday, July 9, board president Dana Dakers declined comment.

Executive Director Kristin Lewis Haight said a subcommittee has been formed with the care of the archival collection as its sole task.

Severance noted the effort it took to raise funds to repair the Town House School, an undertaking that became a success. The school was built in 1900 and educated Kennebunkport youth through 1951.

It later was acquired by the historical society for archival storage and remained open for research until about 2015, when a structural engineer deemed it unsafe, and the society voted to have it torn down.

Friends of Town House School was formed, and there were events that included auctions, suppers and other events that provided the needed funds for restoration. She also recalled successful annual fundraising events to benefit the historical society years ago and suggested those type of efforts could happen again.

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