Starling Hall took a big step backward Wednesday in a move that signals the beginning of a long-anticipated rehabilitation project.

The 1870s structure in North Fayette, formerly known as Starling Grange 156, was taken off its old foundation and placed on steel beams while a new foundation is dug and poured. Once that is completed, Copp & Sons building movers will return and relocate the building a second time.

Business owner Clayton Copp said Thursday that he anticipates that would be in about three weeks.

The new location will be farther away from busy Route 17. The structure had been in the right of way, and the salt and sand that sprayed the building rotted the bottom of the front door — which was too close to the road to open.

The nonprofit Friends of Starling Hall have been working on a project to restore the building so it can function better as a community center and gathering place. The group began its efforts in earnest in August 2014, shortly after residents voted at Town Meeting to keep the hall rather than sell it.

Since then, the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Part of that designation can be attributed to the spectacular second floor, where dark wooden, tongue-and-groove beadboard lines walls and ceiling, wooden floors gleam, and a stage with a restored screen features bygone businesses.

The large room normally is staged as if the Grange was meeting, with sashes of office draped over wooden chairs. Three braces are at one end, and the overseer and steward at the other.

Elaine Wilcox, who is a member of the Friends group, said Thursday that enough money has been raised to pay for the relocation.

At one point, the full renovation cost, which addresses structural problems and code deficiencies, had been estimated to cost more than $500,000.

Plans include a drilled well to bring potable water to the building.

The building has been used previously to hold community suppers and meetings of the Fayette Historical Society, and it normally functions as the town’s polling place.

However, Tuesday’s vote took place at the Fayette fire station.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams