TREMONT — Plans for the Old Red Store to be considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places are on hold after the trustees of the Bass Harbor Memorial Library objected because of the effect the listing could have on the future use of the property.
The Old Red Store at the intersection of the Bernard, Rice and Steamboat Wharf roads is one of four properties in the Hinton estate. In his will, Paul Hinton, who died in 2004, left the properties to the Bass Harbor Memorial Library and the now defunct Southwest Harbor Animal Shelter. The animal shelter’s half-share later was transferred to the Acadia Wildlife Foundation. The town subsequently bought out the wildlife foundation’s share.
Hinton also gave life tenancy to the properties to Marty Lyons. Earlier this year, Lyons contacted the Maine Historic Preservation Commission about getting the store listed on the national register.
At a selectmen’s meeting Monday, Lyons made a case for the historical importance the Old Red Store has had in the community. The building has been used, among other things, as a meat market, a dentist office, barber shop, post office and even a pool hall, Lyons said.
“I think it’s a landmark,” he told selectmen. “I think the community could benefit.”
Lyons has renovated the building, and since 2015, it has been operated seasonally as a gallery and gift shop.
Pete Madeira, chairman of the library board of trustees, said he hated to be “the fly in the ointment,” but the library has concerns about the possible historical designation.
“The library itself is a stakeholder in this,” Madeira said.
The library’s board received notification about the matter about 10 days ago, he said. They met to discuss the issue and, while not strictly opposed, have concerns about the listing lowering the value of the property and any restrictions it would impose.
“We just don’t know what the implications are,” he said.
In addition, Madeira said the board is of the opinion that Lyons does not have the legal standing to request the historic designation. He said any request must be from the town.
Lyons apologized, saying he took the step as part of his “obligation” to maintain the properties.
Reed pointed out that the Maine Historic Preservation Commission was to meet Oct. 27 to consider nominating the store for national historic designation.
Lyons said he had already spoken to the commission, which agreed to table their consideration until October of next year.
Selectmen voted 5-0 to delay any decision on their part until next year.