FARMINGTON — Following the death of its owner, a nearly 150-year-old house near the Franklin County Superior Court probably will be bought by the town and torn down to make room for more downtown parking.

The 1866 multifamily home at 112 Church St. will be bought by the town for $79,000 if residents approve the purchase at a town meeting on June 23.

The town hopes to pay for the building and work with funding from its tax increment financing reserve account.

The TIF Committee presented the plan to selectmen Tuesday. It includes razing the 4,754-square-foot apartment house and attached barn, freeing 0.27 acre for the parking lot, which would have 24 to 28 spaces.

The parking would be at the corner of Church and Cony streets, opening up more municipal parking behind the courthouse.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the property purchase will go to residents at a special town meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23.


He said if the purchase is approved, the closing would take place later in the summer with demolition to follow.

The house was built by John Church just after the Civil War. Church Street bears his family name. The house had been divided into four apartments.

It was owned most recently by James Murphy, of Starks, and is being sold by his estate. Documentation shows an agreement for the purchase price between the town and David R. and Charles T. Murphy.

Former owner Murphy was killed by a drunken driver in November 2013 on Norridgwock Road in Fairfield.

The driver who struck him, Mark Bussell, 39, of Skowhegan, crossed the center line in his pickup truck, striking and killing Murphy. Bussell’s blood-alcohol level at the time was over the legal limit of 0.08. Bussell pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced May 29 to four years in prison followed by four years of probation.

Davis said while the purchase price is $79,000, “Demolition costs are estimated at $50,000 to $55,000, but this will likely go out to bid.”


He said the cost of building the parking lot is still to be determined, but it could be another $50,000 or more — paid for by the TIF reserve account.

Davis said three of the four units in the building are occupied, but one tenant plans to move out soon.

“The remaining units will, of course, have to be vacated before the town takes possession of the property,” he said. The purchase option that the selectmen approved requires the seller to deliver the property unoccupied.

Resident William Jennings said one thing is certain: When workers go there to demolish the building, they’ll be facing the Church family. Their graves line the cemetery fence facing the former family home.

Jennings, a University of Maine at Farmington student, has lived in the building for 12 years and hopes to be able to stay in town.

“We have no idea what the timeline is,” Jennings said. “We do know one of the conditions of sale is that we do have to vacate. In other words, they’re going to have to evict us.”


Jennings said he’s not sure whether the town’s timeline for demolishing the building over the summer will work out with the legalities of evicting tenants, something he said he’s in the process of finding out.

Jennings said he has no intention of fighting the eviction, adding, “We can see the handwriting on the wall.”

He said that the town wants the property badly, and with the focus on downtown revitalization, Jennings called it “a heaven-sent opportunity.”

Davis said there is “a long-standing perception” that there is a parking shortage in town, and “there is no doubt that any amount of new parking will improve the situation.”

Douglas McIntire — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @CD_McIntire


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