Standish Historical Society sets sights on Thompson House

The Standish Historical Society is hoping to raise money to facilitate a move into the historic Thompson House currently for sale at the corner of Routes 25 and 35. 

The Standish Historical Society is hoping to raise money to facilitate a move into the historic Thompson House currently for sale at the corner of Routes 25 and 35.

STANDISH — The Historical Society is looking to chart a new future with a new building.

The Standish Historical Society, which has for years been trying to branch out from its current space at the Old Red Church on Oak Hill Road, is looking to raise money in hopes of relocating to the nearby historic Thompson House at the corner of Routes 25 and 35.

Karen Herrick said that she has been tapped to lead the society’s fundraising efforts, which she notes are “really in the beginning stages.”

According to Herrick, the society voted recently to pursue the Thompson House as its new location. She envisions the building, which she said dates back to about the 1770s, as an multifaceted home for the society that could include a museum, gift shop, event space, and cafe.

She said the Thompson house, which once belonged to the family of Reverend John Thompson, has been home to various enterprises over the years including a tavern, a phone company, and several restaurants.

“It’s a landmark when you drive into Standish,” she said about the property, which most recently was home to O.Dans Public House.

O.Dans closed abruptly in 2016, and a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Labor said the state agency has received complaints from two former employees about unpaid wages.

With O.Dans now closed, Mark Floor of the Maine Real Estate Network is listed as the selling agent for the property. Floor said that O.Dans chef and owner Dan Ellingwood did not own the building.

Floor said that there have been conversations with the Historical Society about the building and that it is “a perfect spot for what they have in mind.”

“Right now, what they seriously need is a benefactor,” he said.

The property is listed online at $550,000 – a figure Herrick acknowledged “going to be tough” to raise. However, she said the society might be able to lease the building for a year and attempt to raise more money or secure a loan. She said the group currently had about $40,000 in reserves.

Floor said that building owner James E. Cummings could potentially be interested in short-term lease situation but would eventually like to sell the property.

To start the fundraising efforts, Herrick said the society will be adding donate buttons to their website and Facebook pages, and will explore other ideas including applying for historic preservation grants, calendars, offering research on historic homes in town for a fee, and direct appeals to the society’s approximately 60 members, potential large donors and local businesses.

“We’ve got to really start hitting the pavement [for] donations,” Herrick said.

She said the group may also seek a dialogue with the town over potential municipal support for the relocation.

Herrick said that the historical society’s current home on the second story of the Old Red Church presents several challenges, including lack of heat, elevator access and space to display and rotate historical objects.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.