The former West Main Street School is now being leased to an architectural firm for just over $28,000 a year. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

A building that served as a Yarmouth schoolhouse for over a century may be sold with its preservation in mind.

A Yarmouth Town Council task force is looking into look selling the building at 117 Main St., the former home of West Main Street School. Terrence J. DeWan & Associates currently rents the building from the town.

“The property is of interest to the town given its historical importance, but we don’t have a particular use for it right now and we’d like to find a buyer who can preserve it,” Council Vice Chairperson Tim Shannon said.

“The task force is advisory, to help the town craft an appropriate mechanism for selling or otherwise transferring the property. For example, the task force will be looking at various historic preservation methods and legal tools and advising the town on which ones to use,” Shannon said.

The task force will research documents to set the terms and conditions under which the town could consider a sale, recommend the best way to market the property, review buyers’ offers, proposals or bids, and recommend a course of action.

“We would proceed by whatever avenue is recommended and agreed to,” Town Manager Nat Tupper said at a June 2 council meeting. “There is an outstanding question of what we do with the proceeds, whatever they may be. No doubt there will be some costs associated with going to market, but that probably could be easily advanced and netted out of the sales, so whatever we take in for money will go towards the bottom line somewhere.”

The town’s hope is “to sell the property subject to securing historic preservation guarantees,” he said.

The building was erected in 1841 as a schoolhouse and continued to operate for school uses until 1992, when Harrison Middle School opened, according to the Yarmouth History Center. Landscape architects Terrence J. DeWan & Associates have leased the space from the town since 1995 and currently pay about $28,400 per year in rent.

While the rent does contribute to town coffers, Tupper said, the building is approaching the 200-year mark and will require significant improvements such as roofing, weatherization and new windows, and other repairs typical for antique buildings.

“In addition, the building and the landlord relationship add burdens to the town’s staffing and management duties that could be better redirected to other projects more directly serving the public needs,” Tupper said. “While the rental income is welcomed, the long-term ownership costs and burdens outweigh that benefit and continued ownership is really outside of the town’s primary mission of public services.

The building is in the Upper Village Historic District, meaning demolition is prohibited. It has been assessed by the town at $341,800.

Any alterations to the front of the structure or the roof will require an advisory review by the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee and, depending on the scope of the work, the Planning Board.

“The historic West Main Street Schoolhouse is an important building in the town of Yarmouth’s history,” Preservation Committee Chairperson Greg Paxton said. “The Historic Preservation Committee is pleased to assist as appropriate in the productive reuse of the school building.”

Task force members will have six to eight months to complete the project, depending on the course of action they decide on and the response from the real estate market. No one commented on the matter at the June 2 and June 16 town council meetings when the task force was discussed.

Members of the task force include Councilor Randall Bates, Yarmouth History Center Executive Director Katherine Worthing, Economic Development Advisory Board member Bruce Drouin, local real estate lawyer Peter Lee and West Main Street resident Jerry King.

Worthing did not respond when asked if the History Center had a position or preference about the sale of the building.

“Our basic posture is: Come talk to us. We welcome public input,” Shannon said.

Comments are not available on this story.