This architect’s rendering shows a renovated Old Town Hall at new site next to the Village Green in North Yarmouth. Contributed / North Yarmouth Historical Society

The North Yarmouth Historical Society hopes that, within a year, the 168-year-old Old Town House will be restored, thus helping preserve the town’s history and character, creating a centerpiece for the town.

Officials held a groundbreaking Monday at what will be the new home of the Old Town House at the site of the former Grange hall at 475 Walnut Hill Road (Route 115), next to the Village Green gazebo and fire station.

Marion Goff, North Yarmouth Boston Post Cane holder, chats with Select Board members David Reed, left, and Jim Moulton, right, Monday at the groundbreaking for the Old Town House project. Contributed / Steve Palmer

Closed in 2012 because of structural problems, the historic building will be moved two miles down the road and onto a new foundation on the Grange site, according to North Yarmouth Historical Society President Katie Murphy. In 2019, town meeting voters opted to lease the Grange lot to the Historical Society for $1.

So far, $518,000 has been raised for the project, and organizers plan to raise another $235,000 to ensure they can cover the rising costs of labor and materials.

“I said I’d support the project on the condition they do not come to taxpayers for money,” Select Board member Jim Moulton said. “This group, though, stepped up and raised the money. I thank them for what they did, living up to their promise and they did a great job doing it.”

Murphy said she hopes to have the project completed by the fall of 2022.

We lost our real centerpiece when the old Grange hall burned, and there’s been a hole there since,” Murphy said, referencing the 2013 blaze. “We do not have a central focal point, but with the old town house, we have it. It’s going to be in the center of everything. Up the street is the community center with all types of amenities, big meeting rooms that we need, but the old townhouse is different. It is smaller, intimate, speaks to the small-town nature of our town.”

The building will house meetings and events and exhibit historical items and archives. It will include a small office for the historical society.

The Town House at 470 Memorial Highway, built in 1853, and was used in years past as a school, for holiday parties and weddings and as a meeting place for organizations such as Boy and Girl scouts.

It now needs major repairs to the roof and ceiling, and the majority of funds raised will go toward those repairs and moving the building, as well as new furnishings.

Now, Murphy hopes residents pitch in. Residents can donate directly to members or online.

“What could better replace that friendly and historic structure with another — one that can best tell the tale of our town’s long history? And thanks to the residents who voted at Town Meeting in April 2019 to lease this very property to North Yarmouth Historical, we are here today,” Murphy said in a speech at Monday’s groundbreaking.

 

Participating in the Old Town House groundbreaking ceremony Monday in North Yarmouth are, from left, Selectperson Jim Moulton, Greely High School student and North Yarmouth Historical Society digital editor Nora Dexter, Old Town House Building Committee Chairperson Ed Gervais, historical society member Charles Bacall, architect representative Bill Hopkins, Selectperson and landscape contractor representative David Reed, longtime resident Judy Maddox and town Boston Post Cane holder Marion Goff. Standing behind is Katie Murphy, president of the historical society. Contributed / Steve Palmer

Linc Merrill, left, Katie Murphy, Mark Heath, Jeanne Chadbourne and Martha Leggat, members of North Yarmouth Historical Society’s Old Town House subcommittee, are pictured in front of the historic building in 2019. File

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