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Auction Will Benefit Orford Town Hall Heritage Center

  • The former Orford Town Hall building in Orfordville, shown prior to 1915. (Orford Historical Society photograph)

    The former Orford Town Hall building in Orfordville, shown prior to 1915. (Orford Historical Society photograph)

  •  Jacobs Brook Scene 1 is one of two paintings by Russian artist Maria Vasilyeva being auctioned to support the creation of the Town Hall Heritage Center in Orford. Ted Cooley photograph

    Jacobs Brook Scene 1 is one of two paintings by Russian artist Maria Vasilyeva being auctioned to support the creation of the Town Hall Heritage Center in Orford. Ted Cooley photograph

  • The former Orford Town Hall building in Orfordville, shown prior to 1915. (Orford Historical Society photograph)
  •  Jacobs Brook Scene 1 is one of two paintings by Russian artist Maria Vasilyeva being auctioned to support the creation of the Town Hall Heritage Center in Orford. Ted Cooley photograph

Orford — Bidding on two oil paintings of Jacobs Brook in Orford will wrap up during the town historical society’s annual meeting Thursday. The free meeting, set for 7 p.m. at Rivendell Academy, will also feature “The Other Orford: Beyond the Bridge and the Ridge,” a new illustrated talk by East Orford native Arthur Pease.

Proceeds from the auction will support the historical society’s Town Hall Heritage Center campaign, which aims to raise $150,000. The money will enable the town of Orford to buy back the old Town Hall building in Orfordville, which will eventually become the heritage center. It will also pay for a number of safety and ADA adaptations and other “moving in” expenses, said Carl Schmidt, historical society president.

The town will lease the building to the historical society for $1 a year and share the maintenance responsibilities.

The building is the first structure in town to be placed on the state Register of Historic Places. In addition to housing the historical society’s collections and various displays, the center will also serve as a public meeting space and be available for genealogical work and schools visits.

So far, the historical society has raised about $109,000 from more than 160 donors. Raising another $5,000 will allow it to receive $25,000 in challenge grants, Schmidt said. The grants, $10,000 from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation and $15,000 from an anonymous donor, would bring the amount raised to almost $140,000.

The center will probably not open until open until 2015, which would coincide with the 250th anniversary of the town’s first permanent settlement, Schmidt said. “There is a lot to be done.”

Work on the building could begin as soon as next month.

The landscapes, Jacobs Brook Scene 1 and Jacobs Brook Scene 2, were painted in 2007 by Russian artist Maria Vasilyeva. The starting bids, determined by fair market value, were $350 and $1,600, respectively.

They are currently on display at Orford Social Library. Bids can be made at the library or mailed to Orford Historical Society, P.O. Box 85, Orford, NH 03777. The silent auction will end at 8:45 p.m. during the annual meeting. — Aimee Caruso