History, Community and Culture in the Hills

Historical Walking Tour

A walk down Norway’s Main Street is a stroll back in time, showcasing numerous examples of period architecture dating back as far as the early 1800s, but mostly built immediately after the Great Fire of 1894.

Historic buildings abound in downtown Norway, Maine.
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Unlike many small towns with similar histories, the buildings of Norway have remained relatively intact. Downtown Norway was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

1. Norway Memorial Library, 1938. A gift to Norway by Maude Thompson Kaemmerling, this Georgian Revival design by Boston’s William B. Coffin has recently been expanded, and is a vital cultural anchor. The Tuscan columns of the large portico greet visitors.

2. Dr. Augustus French House, 1894. Masterful woodworking typical of Norway’s Victorian era. Attributed to Norway’s principle architect and builder, John B. Hazen. Built to replace a home lost to the 1894 fire. Dow’s Law Office can be found there.

3. Tucker Block, 1894. Built as a harness shop that closed in 1958, one of Maine’s last, after 150 years of service to the community. With its large oriel window and double-arched doorway, this is a rare example of a Queen Anne commercial building. Home to Creative Media and Western Maine Mortgage.

4. Odd Fellows Block, 1894 1st floor, 1911 2nd floor. Demonstrates the role that fraternal orders played in establishing businesses on Main Street. The second floor once housed the district court room and law offices, while the ground floor storefront has been home to a fancy goods store, a Ben Franklin Store in the 30s, and a Wilson Dollar Store in the 50s.

5. Norway Opera House, 1894. Distinctive clock tower and Romanesque arch define this enduring symbol of Norway. Designed by E.E. Lewis, who also designed the Odd Fellows Block. The second floor Grand Ballroom was used for training drills by the 133rd infantry in both World Wars. Currently the focus of a preservation effort.

6. Barber Shop, 1894. Built immediately after the Great Fire with Greek Revival design elements that hearken back to the mid-19th century. Prime Cuts and Nails does business here.

7. Stone’s Drug Store, ca. 1881. This is one of the few buildings to survive the Great Fire of 1894. The top floor served as a meeting hall for the Grand Army of the Republic and later, the Knights of Pythias. Beginning in 1881, the bottom floor housed drug stores, but is now home to Books N Things.

8. Levi Whitman Building, circa 1810. Originally built as a commercial property, this is one of the oldest buildings on Main Street. A recent rehabilitation has beautifully exposed the original hand-hewn timber frame. Home to Café Nomad and Moose Pond Arts+Ecology.

9. Advertiser Block, 1848, enlarged 1877 and 1887. Originally two separate blocks, the building was joined by a glass front around 1980. The northern (Main Street) portion of the building was home to a shoe and boot store, a Masonic Lodge, Norway Savings Bank, and the Norway Grange. The southern (Pikes Hill, formerly Bridge Street) section of the building was a small carpenter shop, and a Grange Hall. The newspaper’s many incarnations have occupied part or all of the building since the 1880s.

10. Evans-Cummings House, 1855. Remodeled 1885–1892. Locally known as the “Gingerbread House,” this unique structure has fallen into disrepair but is the focus of recent restoration efforts. A carriage barn in back of the house features a turntable, eliminating the need to back a car out.

11. Grammar School, 1866. Double door, gabled front and semi-circular window reveal hints of Greek Revival style. Now home to the Western Maine Art Group and the Matolcsy Art Center. Originally the Upper Primary School, built for the children of the village section of Norway.

12. Fletcher’s Candy Shop, 1894. With its fan motif and matching oriel windows, this is one of the most elaborate and unaltered examples of original wooden commercial architecture in Norway. Also known as the Danforth Block. It is now occupied by The Dragon’s Lair and The Village Gift Barn.

13. Danforth House, 1836. One of the few 19th century buildings in Norway that has not undergone any renovations. Built for Dr. Asa Danforth, one of Norway’s first physicians, who lived and worked in the building for almost 60 years.

14. The Blue Store, 1884. Long a home to L.F. Pike and Son. Features a high false front for signage prevalent in Victorian era commercial buildings. The distinctive blue paint is traced to its use in the 1880s by the men’s furnishings chain store in nearby Lewiston known as “The Blue Store.”

15. Weary Club, 1927. Greek Revival built from salvaged lumber acquired from Beal’s Tavern. Club’s motto: Makers and dealers in Cedar Shavings, Social Gossip, Political Wisdom, and Yankee Philosophy. Admission is rumored to be granted only to those who can carve a cedar shaving light enough to float.

16. L. M. Longley and Son, 1867. This Greek Revival building is considered one of the most distinctive examples of mid-19th century commercial architecture in Maine. It is also unique in that is has always been run as a hardware store. The Norway Public Library once occupied the second floor.

17. Post Office Building, 1916. Fare Share Market, a natural foods cooperative, restored and now occupies this fine example of decorative woodworking for which Norway is known. Formerly home to a hostelry, a post office, an auto showroom, and a bakery.

18. Henry Bangs Store, 1899. Now housing Ari’s Pizza, this gable roofed building is an important example of Norway’s eclectic tradition of commercial architecture. It has been used by grocery operations since its construction.

19. Luther Farrar House, 1906. Recentily burned down in 2011. It was one of the oldest buildings in town. Built by Norway’s first lawyer in the Federal style with a hipped roof. The porches, bay windows, and rear extension were added in 1907.

20. Increase Robinson House, 1800. Greatly expanded in 1818 with traits that accentuate the high Federalist style. From 1832-1859 it was the home of “Squire” William Clark Whitney, High Sheriff of Oxford County and one of the wealthiest men in the region. Eventually owned by Stephen Cummings, founder of CB Cummings & Sons, a wood products business.

21. First Universalist Church of Norway, 1829. The oldest continuously existing Universalist Church in Maine and home to Norway’s first congregation, formed in 1799. Built in a Federal Style by Ezra Fluent Beal. It was raised and a basement meeting space added in 1865; the space was Norway’s most important gathering place for town meetings and major social events until the Opera House was built. The dome and weathervane were added in 1913. Features stained glass.