HEBRON — The majority of the SAD 17 Board of Directors have agreed to move forward with a plan to relocate an abandoned railroad building on Station Road across the street to a parcel on the Hebron Station School property.
The Hebron Historical Society is attempting to save the railroad building, which some believe may be the original 19th century East Hebron Station, by relocating it up and across the street to a parcel of school land it would lease.
The school, built in 2002 in the area of the Hebron railroad station and freight buildings which once was a major hub of activity, was named for the station. The line was last used by the Maine Central Railroad in 1945.
The directors’ 15-2 vote, taken at the board’s Monday, June 19 meeting, approved the conceptual plan, but both parties must still review and approve legal documents, which will detail issues such as leasing terms and responsibility for building upkeep.
According to a letter to Superintendent Rick Colpitts from Hebron Historical Society Vice President/Treasurer Robert Swift, dated May 15, the location is proposed to be on the left side of the school entrance adjacent to Station Road near the tree line.
The piece of land is described as “postage stamp” size.
The set back from the road right-of-way would be 35 feet, which would place the location of the building seven feet in front of the tree line, according to the letter. The site would allow the building to be visible and provide an opportunity after restoration for it to be used for educational purposes.
While the majority of the directors agreed with the concept, several questioned the advisability of having a derelict building that currently has lead paint inside on school property.
“If the town of Hebron doesn’t care enough why should the SAD 17?” asked Director Don Ware.
Elizabeth Swift, who represents Hebron, said the board should care for several reasons including the fact that the elementary school is named after the Hebron Station.
“It’s almost like a monument to represent why we named it the Hebron Station School to begin with,” she said.
Directors were assured that the exterior would be fixed up and no one would be allowed access to the interior in its current condition.
Efforts to preserve the building became more urgent for the Historical Society in April when the Board of Selectmen recommended at the March 18 annual town meeting that voters reject a $5,000 request from the society to fund the move and restoration of the building.
The money was intended to seed the project but selectmen argued against it saying, the building was filled with lead paint and not worth the effort or expense.
There was also disagreement between the society and town about the building’s ownership. To resolve that issue the Board of Selectmen formally gave the Hebron Historical Society the building on April 10. In the 1950s, the building had been placed on skidders by a previous owner and rolled from the hay field, which is now the town’s ballfield, to its present position in front of the nearby Town Garage.
Colpitts, who made a site visit with Robert Swift, said the building is structurally in “fairly good shape,” with the exception of one sill, but the exterior needs repairs.
While the district would not own the building, officials can ask that it be removed at any time from the district’s property.
(Anyone who would like more information on the project or would like to donate money, materials or labor should contact Robert Swift at 207-966-1076. Donations can be mailed to the Hebron Historical Society at P.O. Box 294, Hebron, ME 04238.)