A broken first-floor window on the back side of the vacant building appears to be the access point, and it’s not the first time they’ve gotten in through broken windows.
In July 2013, building owner Sam Patel was notified by Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman that the town would take legal action because the broken windows were a public hazard. The eight broken second-story windows and the lower half of the eight third-story windows eventually were covered with plywood.
Patel, a retailer in southern Maine, purchased the empty, partially-renovated, three-story, brick building in December 2012 from TD Bank. It was transferred to Patel’s limited liability company, Jasmin LLC, on Dec. 14, 2012. Since then, no action has been taken to reuse it.
Efforts by the Sun Journal to reach Patel were unsuccessful.
In 2008, the interior of the building was gutted by the former owners, but efforts to renovate and reuse the building ceased in 2010 when they lost control of the building in foreclosure.
The building remains empty. The first floor is covered with pigeon droppings and the tin ceiling appears to be rusted and broken in many spots. Temporary electrical lighting remains in the ceiling and a few pieces of lumber are on the floor.
A study of Odd Fellows Hall by Resurgence Engineering and Preservation of Portland several years ago indicated it would cost more than $800,000 to fully renovate the building.
The Odd Fellows Hall was named one of Maine’s 10 most endangered historic places by Maine Preservation of Portland in 2013.
The basement and first floor were built in1894 after the “Great Fire” destroyed much of the downtown business district. The other floors were added in 1910. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of Norway’s historic downtown district.
The third floor contained a high-ceiling ceremonial space for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Norway Lodge No. 16, which owned the building during the 19th century. The second floor had a kitchen and large dining area, along with law offices and a courthouse. The first floor traditionally has been storefronts.
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