2004 Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Resources
Maine Preservation announced its 2004 list of Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Properties at a press conference on June 16, 2004, in front of the privately owned 1871 Newcastle/Damariscotta Railroad station, now a storage facility. The station is among the five individual and two statewide thematic properties officially named to the program in 2004 by Maine Preservation’s Board of Trustees. The selections were made after reviewing a record number of nominations received earlier that spring.
“From mountains to ocean and camps to campus, 2004’s list represents the vast diversity of cultural resources in Maine. Each is considered an outstanding example of our state’s diverse heritage, and collectively they visibly demonstrate the variety and severity of threats facing historic sites and places in every one of our communities,” said Roxanne Eflin, Executive Director of Maine Preservation.
Maine Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Properties program has grown to include 64 sites since 1996, including six statewide thematic categories of Downtowns, Historic Neighborhood Schools, Grange Halls, Barns, Steeples and Towers and Town Meeting Halls. “Endangered” status, though not ensuring the protection of a site or providing funding, continually helps to raise local awareness, gives a wake-up call to local history and focuses the work that often leads to rescue.
Newcastle-Damariscotta Railroad Station (1871)
Endangered. The Newcastle-Damariscotta Railroad Station, which played a thriving role in the 19th and 20th century transportation of Mainers, tourists and freight up the coast of Maine, is ready to come back to life serving the 21st century. The Station was built around 1871, the same year that the Knox & Lincoln Railroad finished constructing its line from Bath to Rockland, which included loading the cars on a boat to cross the Kennebec River (there was no bridge).
For 31 years the Knox & Lincoln Railroad was owned and operated by the towns for which it serviced, but as this proved to be a financial burden to the towns, the railroad was sold a few times before it was leased to the Maine Central Railroad in 1891 under the new name of the Knox and Lincoln Railway. In 1901 the Knox and Lincoln Railway was merged in the Maine Central.
Among the early station agents at Newcastle-Damariscotta was Ellis W. Nash, who had heard of the new fangled ‘telephone’, connected a telephone to the telegraph line that ran along the tracks and made the area’s first phone calls. This led overnight to the founding of the Nash Telephone Company, fondly remembered when everyone shared party lines.
The Station ended its regular passenger service in 1959. Today, the Station building is privately owned and serves as a storage facility for a local hardware store. This National Register eligible structure is remarkably original despite alterations and additions since its days as a busy railroad station, and is endangered by deterioration. The Newcastle and Damariscotta Historical Societies, town leaders and the owner support the rehabilitation and restoration of this structure to its original use for the proposed excursion line that will run from Brunswick to Rockland.
For more information or to make a donation to the building fund, contact Bill Dunning, President of the Newcastle Historical Society, at (207) 563-3347 or write them at P.O.Box 482, Newcastle, Maine, 04553.
Outlet and Lookout cabins (1902) of Daicey Pond Camp in Baxter State Park
Gone. Nestled on the shore of Daicey Pond in Baxter State Park, with Mt. Katahdin as a backdrop, the Outlet and Lookout cabins of Daicey Pond Camp represent a historic connection between the built and natural environments in Maine. The two log cabins preceded Governor Percival Baxter’s personal gift of the land–that was to be”forever wild”–to the people of Maine. The cabins were are an integral component of the park’s lasting identity.
They were part of the larger Daicey Pond sporting camp built in 1902 by Maurice York. For 67 years the York family played host to fisherman, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts before selling their camps to the Baxter State Park Authority in 1969. From that point on the cabins have been rented to the public by the Park Authority, and have become part of the beloved, inspirational cultural landscape of Maine.
The Park Authority demolished the famous cabins in September of 2004. The cabins were deteriorating due to use, age and neglect but were still structurally sound and historically significant. A new six-person cabin is proposed to be constructed further from the pond. Reasons cited for their demolition are deterioration, supposed detrimental environmental effects caused by the campers (although no environmental assessment had been conducted to affirm this) and inadequate size.
This is not the first proposed demolition at Daicey Pond. In 2003 the Park Authority removed the old “Guides Camp,” the original guides’ cabin built by Maurice York in 1902, without any public disclosure of the proposed plan. The Park Authority’s aversion to preserving these historic structures is evidenced by the demolition of the old guides’ camp combined with their refusal to allow this and the adjacent historic camp on Kidney Pond to be formally listed in the National Register of Historic Properties. The nomination was proposed in 1993 by a group of four hundred citizens; however, consent by the Park Authority was not given to allow the nomination to proceed. Listing in the National Register does not necessarily insure preservation or protection.
George Kerivan, an authority on the history of Daicey Pond and part-time resident of Maine, mounted an effort to save Outlet and Lookout cabins. He points out “very few people know about this policy – no doubt all the other camps at Daicey and Kidney Pond are vulnerable now with this precedent setting decision.”
More information on Baxter State Park and its management policies can also be found at www.baxterstateparkauthority.com, by phoning (207) 723-9500 or contacting Irwin “Buzz” Caverly, Director of Baxter State Park, Baxter State Park Authority, 64 Balsam Drive, Millinocket, ME, 04462.
Halfway Rock Lighthouse, Harpswell (1869)
Endangered. Located roughly 10 miles east of Portland Head and halfway between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small in Phippsburg, this 76-foot granite block lighthouse was erected in 1869 off the tip of Bailey Island. It contained a third order Fresnel lens, and housed its keepers in rooms inside the tower. Halfway Rock Light was one of the most difficult posts due to its treacherous location. In the winter and during storms it was inaccessible.
In 1960 a new modern house, boathouse and helicopter-landing pad replaced the old boathouse. The Fresnel lens was replaced in 1975 with an automated light. Today the lighthouse virtually stands alone on Halfway Rock, its outbuildings either damaged or destroyed by storms and deterioration due to age.
The lighthouse is currently leased from the Coast Guard by the Wells-based non-profit American Lighthouse Foundation to be maintained for future generations. The tower has fallen into serious disrepair and the interior is rapidly deteriorating. It is estimated that it will cost $35,000 to restore the interior alone. The safest way to take supplies to the rocky ledge is by helicopter, which makes any restoration inordinately expensive and has been an enormous challenge in the essential stabilization of this maritime landmark. The inaccessibility of Halfway Rock Light made it one of the last remaining lighthouses to be adopted through the internationally regarded Maine Lights Program (1997-1999).
For more information or to make a donation to the American Lighthouse Foundation to save this lighthouse, contact Tim Harrison, President of the American Lighthouse Foundation, at (207) 646-0245 or write to P.O. Box 889, Wells, Maine, 04090. Their website is www.lighthousefoundation.org.
Steeples and Towers – Throughout Maine
Endangered. Maine Preservation created a new statewide thematic category of “Steeples and Towers” this year to address an increasing number of threatened public buildings with these prominent architectural features that often define a town or landscape.
Three 2004 nominations prompted this thematic category: the First Congregational Church in East Machias, the Winterport Union Meeting House in Winterport and the Lincoln Mill Clock Tower in Biddeford. All of these structures (especially their steeples and towers) share threats of deterioration and lack of financial assistance.
By bringing attention to this endangered resource through statewide recognition, we are raising greater public awareness by asking everyone to “Look Up!” and help in efforts to preserve and protect these irreplaceable landmarks.
To find out whom to contact locally, call your Town office, Historical Society, or contact Maine Preservation at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 775-3652.
Town Meeting Halls – Throughout Maine
Endangered. Prompted by nominations of the Corinth Town Hall and I.O.O.F. Building in Corinth, the Leeds Town House in Leeds, the Odeon Hall in Bethel and the Monson Museum Building in Monson, a second statewide thematic category called “Town Meeting Halls” has been added in response to the steadily increasing loss of such resources to disuse, deterioration and deferred maintenance. Town Meeting Halls were Maine’s centers for community gatherings and celebrations. To lose such an historic resource would be to lose the heart of a community’s heritage and essential character. That is why Maine Preservation chose to highlight town meeting halls as a statewide endangered resource. Similar to the “Steeples and Towers” thematic category, the “Town Meeting Halls” category was prompted by a number of such nominations. The supporters for each of these buildings are eager to help save their community treasures through new awareness and new uses.
To find out whom to contact locally, call your Town office or Historical Society, or contact Maine Preservation at email@example.com or (207) 775-3652.
Carry Road and Lakewood Camps area near Middle Dam – Upton (1860)
Saved! Maine Preservation learned in October of 2004, that Union Water Power Company has dropped its plan to develop a nine-lot cluster development at Middle Dam near the Carry Road. The decision was the result of discussions with Friends of Richardson over the course of several months prior. In recognition of Union Water Power Company’s decision to forego development of the nine-lot cluster, Friends of Richardson have agreed to not oppose Union’s development of three lots on the south shore of Richardson Lake (away from the historic Lakewood Camps). In addition to the above, the area will greatly benefit from Union’s conveyance of over 12 miles of shorefront along the Rapid River and Pond in the River to Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust and $1,500,000 earmarked for further conservation and stewardship.
BACKGROUND: Near the New Hampshire border, the Carry Road and surrounding Middle Dam/Rapid River area located at Lower Richardson Lake represents the importance of preserving pristine areas of Maine.
Built circa 1860, the Carry Road was an important link between Lower Richardson Lake and Umbagog Lake. Roughly five miles in length, it runs alongside the Rapid River, the swiftest river east of the Rockies, providing transportation to Middle Dam (built in 1877 by Union Power Company for water storage, to power the textile mills in Lewiston, Maine during the summer months). Logging companies and countless sportsmen who came to fish at Middle Dam and Rapid River used the Carry Road. This road led to Middle Dam Camps, also built in 1860 and originally known as “Angler’s Retreat.” Today, they are known as Lakewood Camps and are one of Maine’s oldest, continually running, privately owned sporting camps. The area is considered to be a significant cultural landscape.
The current use of the road remains unchanged linking the two lakes and providing Rapid River access to fishing enthusiasts and day hikers. It was threatened by Union Water Power’s proposal to re-zone a six-acre parcel of land at Middle Dam adjacent to Lakewood Camps. The re-zoning would allow for the construction of a condominium-like development of nine clustered camps located between the Carry Road and Rapid River, only 1,000 feet away from Lakewood Camps, visible from both the Camps and the Carry Road. The Friends of Richardson, a grassroots organization “dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the Richardson Lakes, Rapid River and surrounding areas,” fear that this new development will “have a negative impact and cause irreparable damage to the unique and historic character of the Carry Road and the entire area surrounding it.” They also believe that the development would damage the dirt road itself with increased traffic as well as harming the surrounding natural environment.
The Friends of Richardson has gained support from organizations and individuals across Maine and New England. Their goal is to protect the cultural heritage and scenic beauty of the area, and (at the time of the nomination in Spring, 2004) were hopeful that through negotiations with Union Water Power Company that an alternative may be developed that will protect this historic area for future generations. For more information, contact Betsy Ham, Friends of Richardson Executive Committee member, at (207) 666-3376 (evenings) or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The “Friends” mailing address is P.O. Box 71, Andover, ME, 04216.
Walker Art Museum Building – Bowdoin College Quad, Brunswick (1892-94)
Saved! Facing the Quad at the center of the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick, the Walker Art Museum Building was a gift honoring T.W. Walker from his two nieces to create a great building to house the first and perhaps the finest college art collection in America. The nieces chose the nation’s leading architectural firm of the time, McKim, Mead and White, who designed the museum in the Renaissance Revival style. Built between 1892 and 1894, this domed structure is set on a broad podium approached by a grand flight of stairs up to an elegant triumphal arch entryway looking out on the campus quad. Located within the Federal Street National Register Historic District, the Walker Art Museum Building is a contributing structure within this nationally significant district, the second highest designation afforded to properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (only National Landmarks are rated higher).
The College’s continuous stewardship of this fine building to house their remarkable teaching collection has always deserved support, as does the current program to address new needs for climate control, accessibility and change in the galleries. The revised architectural design ultimately chosen by the college from among other alternatives to address these problems preserves the architectural character and historical integrity of the building. A glass structure located to the side of the building’s grand facade will provide stair and elevator access to a new entry court located beneath the current entrance. A new glass addition to the rear of the building addresses the need for more gallery space. A previous design proposed to remove all of the grand staircase leading to the dome’s rotunda and replacing it with a wide shallow balcony over a new ground-level entrance. Construction began in Summer 2005 and is expected to be completed in 2007.
For more information on the Walker Art Museum Building, visit www.academic.bowdoin.edu/artmuseum/index.shtml.