Gorham Historical Society, 28 School St. File photo

The Gorham Historical Society is regrouping after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and that could include a move from its town-owned headquarters on School Street.

The society, which had 65 members before the pandemic struck, hasn’t collected dues or held an annual meeting for two years. It will resume meetings in May.

It’s also considering leaving the 180-year-old brick building at 28 School St., where it has resided since the mid-1970s.  A new space for the historical society is warranted, said President Suzanne Phillips, who also is a town councilor. The building has no nearby parking, is not large enough for storage, displays and meetings; is not handicapped accessible; and needs repairs, she said.

The society is open to ideas about potential relocation sites and plans to speak with the University of Southern Maine next month and the Shaw Brothers Family Foundation about possibilities they may have, Phillips said, noting it is “early in the discussions.”

Jon Shaw, president of Shaw Brothers Construction, has hinted that its nonprofit foundation might have space available. A restored 200-year-old barn will be erected at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm in April, and Shaw last week told the American Journal that it could include storage for artifacts and civic meeting space.

The historical society archives contain genealogical material, photos, artifacts, cemetery records and a variety of other documents.


Society members would have to vote to move out of 28 School St.

Its brick headquarters for years housed town offices, but after they relocated to a new municipal center at 270 Main St. in the mid-1970s, the society moved in.

“The historical society does not pay rent and is supported in part by the town for the critical role they play in preserving Gorham’s history,” Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said.

The society pays for its own heat, electricity and water.

If the current use changes, Paraschak said the Town Council would determine the fate of the building.

“In the event that the historical society left, there have been discussions about working with the private sector to find other uses for the building,” Paraschak said. “However no decisions have been made.”

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