The Kennebunkport Historical Society board of directors voted in May to sell the Pasco Center, but informed members by letter on Tuesday, July 13, that it had decided to temporarily remove the building from the real estate market. Dan King photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – The sale of the Pasco Center, the headquarters and archive research center for the Kennebunkport Historical Society, is off – for now.

“At this time, we have made the decision to temporarily remove the Pasco Center from the active real estate market,” the historical society’s board of directors wrote to its membership on Tuesday, July 13.

The letter came ahead of a meeting scheduled for that evening by some historical members who were surprised when they saw that the headquarters was advertised for sale. The meeting was called to gauge interest in an effort to save the building.

Citing building overhead and other finance-related considerations, the Kennebunkport Historical Society board of directors voted unanimously to sell it at a meeting in May. The Pasco Center, at 125 North St., was built in 1999 and sits on 1.17 acres. It was listed for $569,000.

Tuesday’s letter from the board of directors came with an apology to the membership.

“We regret and were unintentionally remiss that the selling of the Pasco Center was not fully communicated to the Kennebunkport Historical Society membership prior to the decision being made,” the board of directors’ letter states. “Although the decision was made legally, in accordance with the Kennebunkport Historical Society by-laws, we understand that transparency is imperative to running a successful, collaborative society. We acknowledge that we did not fully explain our business logic and financial strategy and why this decision made sense.”

Kennebunkport Historical Society owns White Columns, which is widely known as The Nott House, Town House School and the Pasco Center, which holds the society’s archival collection.

“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,” an earlier letter by the board,  outlining the May vote, said. “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 said the board anticipates continued restoration of White Columns, which it described as having 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,” the earlier letter stated.

Historical society member Judy Hyotte said there was a good turnout at Tuesday’s meeting of members interested in keeping the building.

“There’s a lot of support for retaining the Pasco Center and working together to maintain the values of the Kennebunkport Historical Society,” said Hyotte, adding she and other members are looking to have a positive conversation with the board about the building. “(We’d like) to see what we can do to work together to save it and save the history of this town.”

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