WAYNE — The design of the Wayne Town House, with plank benches running along each side of the building and resting on an inclined plane floor, was determined by residents at a town meeting in 1839.

As was customary in some New England communities, women were to sit on one side of the building and men on the other.

Residents occupied the Town House for the first time on Sept. 14, 1840, paying builder Peter Fifield $358.25.

“It was built with 1800s technology, using every economy they could,” said Eloise Ault, who did extensive research on the Town House.

Now, the historic building has gotten a long-awaited facelift.

Resident and builder Robert Stephenson coordinated the work, which was completed late last month.

“The exterior siding, windows and door were scraped and repainted by Ray Hamilton of Livermore, who considered it a labor of love to be working on an old historic building,” Ault sad. He said next-door neighbor Bill Coolidge pitched in with a backhoe to remove stumps and boulders, create a lawn, and remove small trees and brush to increase the visibility of building.

New clapboards replaced the deteriorated ones.

“The 1840 roof boards on the left side were found to be ready for the compost pile, rotten and riddled with hundreds of nail holes from years of shingle roof replacements,” Ault said. “Bob found a custom saw mill which provided 1-inch boards required to complete the job.”

Instead of asphalt shingles, the new roof is made of steel crafted to look like shingles.

The last thing to be restored, was an unusual half-chimney, which needed new flashing and remortaring of the cap, Ault said.

The exterior project ended up costing $3,000 over budget, largely because of the cost of the new boards, so the Wayne Historical Society donated that money.

To celebrate the renovation, members put candles in the windows on Christmas Eve, and had photos taken of the structure. “We’re so proud of it,” Ault said. “We’re very proud of it.”

Work on the interior — now bared to split hemlock boards on the walls and missing some ceiling planks — awaits.

More money is needed. “We are in hopes that the town citizens are enthusiastic,” Ault said. “The most expensive thing will be to get the ceiling up.”

Residents last used the building on June 26, 1991, relocating to the Ladd Center 20 minutes after a meeting began “because the old building could not safely support the large turnout of citizens,” according to notes from the time.

Restoration efforts began in earnest in 1997, when the town received a matching grant from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

The former selectmen’s office was removed and the roof rebraced.

In early 2011, selectmen asked members of the Wayne Historical Society, which was officially formed at the town’s bicentennial Feb. 12, 1998, following years of work as an informal committee, to assess and coordinate the remaining exterior restoration work, providing $11,500, Ault said.

The Town House, on Route 133 near the intersection with Pond Road, is one of three sites in Wayne on the National Register of Historic Places. The others are the 1855 North Wayne School, which has a second-story auditorium and stage, and the 1867 Wing “Ring” Cemetery.

Society members serving on the restoration committee with Stephenson and his wife, Betsy Bowen, were Ault and her husband, Peter, as well as Robert and Linda McKee.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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