Oldest newspaper moves to another old home

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    The Advertiser Democrat sign, that hung on the edge of its old office at 1 Pikes Hill, was removed this fall and erected in front of the new office building at 220 Main Street.

    NORWAY — It has taken some 150 years for the Advertiser Democrat to find a new home.

    But this fall, the offices of the Advertiser Democrat moved from its long-time home at 1 Pikes Hill to set up shop in an equally historical and arguably much more beautiful building.

    The former office, which once bustled with the clanking of the printing press during the 150 or so years it was housed there with other businesses and organizations including the Norway Grange, later became a vast empty space and simply a behemoth for the few remaining employees and its building owners.

    The search to find new space in the downtown Norway area was not easy, but in September, the Advertiser Democrat found its new home just downstream on the Pennesseewassee Stream.

    “Our new space is delightful and cozy and we are thrilled to be able to stay on Main Street in Norway albeit the other end! It will be a good experience for us to learn the daily rhythms of the other end of town,” said Anne Sheehan, managing editor of the Western Maine Weeklies, including the Advertiser Democrat.

    “Leaving 1 Pikes Hill, often referred to as Advertiser Square, was conflicting. Those of us who have worked there for a long time welcomed the pluses of the new space but were sad to be leaving the history of the paper and its environs. One staff member says she “grew up” over the past 20 years in that building where she has worked since she was 17. However, we are looking forward to its being revitalized and becoming one more asset to downtown Norway.”

    The new office, which houses the Advertiser Democrat and the Norway bureau of the Sun Journal, reflects some of the remarkable architecture of the downtown community, much of which was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1898 wiped out most of the south side of Main Street from Steep Falls to Pikes Hill including the home of Silas D. Andrews on what is now 220 Main Street.

    It is believed the house was rebuilt within the year after the May 9, 1894 fire.

    According to the late historian Rev. Don McAllister, who was born in Norway in 1933 and educated across the street at the former Norway High Scxhool, Silas D. Andrews had purchased the site and built a home prior to the fire after he moved here from Otisfield. Like other homes the Andrews built in Norway, the rebuilt home was described as “large and commodious.”

    Over the last century, the current house has been the home to Eugene and Carrie Swett, who according to records, sold it to Fred H. and Elizabeth Bartlett in 1924. They later sold it to Leon and Mary Newcomb. Family member Shirley Huff said she recalls the riding business and horse stables her family – the Newcombs – had on the property in the mid 20th century in the large barn behind the house, before they sold the property in 1968 to Walter and Mary Emmons.

    Most recently, the property has been owned by Ronald and Jane Everett who sold the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house last summer to Jeremy Irving.

    For most of its existence, the building as served as a home.

    The architecture of the home is still intact in many of the rooms including the current Advertiser Democrat reception area that boasts a working, marble tile inlayed fireplace, intricate wood scroll details; the newsroom with its set of bay windows and panel wooden doors; a three-sided wrap around porch, a diamond sash window in the attic and from the editor’s office a view that looks out down toward the Penessewassee Stream where deer can often be spotted.

    Open House

    The community is invited to come and take a tour of the Advertiser Democrat’s new home at 220 Main Street, directly across the street from the Guy E. Rowe Elementary School, on Thursday, Nov. 29 when the Advertiser Democrat, Sun Journal and the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce will host an evening of fun, festivities, light fare and giveaways from 5-7 p.m.

    Part open house, part ribbon cutting, part holiday celebration, stop by for a bite to eat and chance to talk with writers, editors, ad reps and community service folks who will be answering questions, encouraging story ideas and getting to better know the community they serve.

    ldixon@sunmediagroup.net