2006 Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Resources
Portland, Maine. Today, Maine Preservation announced its 11th annual list of Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Properties at a press conference outside the Kennebec County Court House in downtown Augusta – in full view of the historic YMCA across the street. The Kennebec County YMCA , built in 1914, is among the six structures and one National Register historic district officially named to the program this year by Maine Preservation’s Board of Trustees. The selections were made after reviewing a record number of nominations received earlier this year.
“We believe that Maine ‘s traditional buildings and landscapes provide tangible links to our past and future. They are strong and contributing elements of our cultural legacy,” stated Maine Preservation Board President, Cynthia Wheelock. “ Our mission is to promote the preservation, protection and vitality of Maine’s historic places and encourage quality design that contributes to the livability of our communities,” she said.
“Eleven years ago we began our Most Endangered Historic Properties program to increase public awareness of the need to preserve and protect our vanishing heritage, and to provide leadership and support in the rescue of significant historic structures and sites across Maine.
“The program demonstrates the variety and severity of threats facing historic structures and sites across Maine . Endangered status does not ensure the protection of a site or provide funding, yet it continually helps to raise local awareness and helps focus the work that often leads to rescue,” said Roxanne Eflin, the organization’s Executive Director.
New to the list in 2006 are:
- the 1914 Kennebec County YMCA , 33 Winthrop Street , Augusta , endangered by potential redevelopment;
- two buildings on Great Diamond Island in Portland – the former 200-man Barracks and the Hospital at Fort McKinley (1903-1910), both endangered by deterioration, lack of use and potential demolition;
- the Standish Corner (National Register) Historic District (six 18 th and 19 th century structures on eight acres in the village center of Standish), established in 1993, endangered by potential new development, building relocation and proposed demolition;
- the 1891 J.K.Edes Building in downtown Guilford (where Burt’s Bees began), endangered by deterioration, lack of use and potential demolition;
- the 1920 Stockholm Mountain Fire Lookout Tower in Aroostook County ; and
- the 1940 Houlton Aviation Control Tower. Both of these rare towers are endangered by deterioration due to lack of funds for maintenance.
Since 1996, and including this year, 69 individual and six statewide thematic property types have received “Most Endangered” status. 22 are now considered “rescued,” with another 47 still considered “at risk” including the six statewide thematic properties types of Barns and Agricultural Buildings, Historic Downtown “Main Streets”, Historic Neighborhood Schools, Grange Halls, Town Meeting Halls, and Steeple and Towers. Only six endangered properties have been lost to demolition since the program began 11 years ago.
The Augusta YMCA, located in the Winthrop Street National Register Historic District at State and Winthrop Streets, was built in 1914-15.
Designed by architect Louis Jallade in the Classical Revival style, this three-story local landmark features a two-story portico with massive columns, arched windows, an elliptical fanlight, sidelights, an ornate three-part window with balcony and a modillion cornice. Maine Preservation’s Board of Trustees acted on a nomination by citizens of Augusta, concerned about the future of this building once the YMCA moves into its new, larger facility this fall.
The property is for sale (see below); however, since the City’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has no review authority over whether it stays or is demolished to clear the land for new development, its future preservation is in question. The Augusta HPC passed a resolution to endorse saving the YMCA building and encourages its preservation “for future generations of the citizens of the Augusta.” Maine Preservation’s goal by including the Augusta YMCA on this year’s Most Endangered list is to help focus attention on the remarkable potential this historic building brings to Augusta’s economy, and to help identify a preservation-sensitive developer.
Both the 200-man Barracks and the Hospital at the former Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay are endangered by deterioration, lack of use and potential demolition.
The City of Portland currently owns them through a tax lien and is looking for an appropriate developer. These historic and architecturally significant brick buildings are components of both national and local historic districts; however, their deteriorated condition places them at high risk for demolition.
The City of Portland is in a position through the bid process to ensure their rehabilitation, though only if a creative and preservation-sensitive developer is found. Maine Preservation’s goal for listing the former Fort McKinley 200-man Barracks and Hospital to our Most Endangered Historic Properties program is to assist the City of Portland in attracting the right development team through increased publicity and public awareness.
Located in the heart of downtown in the central Maine community of Guilford, the J.K. Edes Building stands alone in a block that once contained campanions of similar scale and hand-crafted architectural interest.
Built in 1891, it is an architecturally distinctive two-story brick commercial building where the nationally successful company Burt’s Bees began. The Edes Building has been vacant and deteriorating for some time, and is threatened with demolition by the Town of Guilford, its owner. The Town of Guilford now owns it on back taxes, and is most interested in redeveloping the entire block to help revitalize the community. Guilford has no zoning downtown, and no local legislation regarding historic preservation or commercial development design or use.
Some believe this building is in the way—an inhibitor to potential new commercial infill development. Others, including Maine Preservation, believe distinctive historic commercial buildings like the Edes have enormous potential to help maintain the sense of pedestrian scale and design vocabulary indicative of Maine’s historic downtown centers. Members of the local historical society have obtained grant pledges to stabilize and make basic repairs to the building; they have asked the Town to deed the Edes building to\ them for historical society use. That decision will be made by the citizens at a special Town Meeting scheduled for July 17, 2006.
Maine Preservation’s Board of Trustees support the protection, preservation and reuse of the historic Edes Building, and urge the Town of Guilford and its citizens to do likewise.
The World War II-era Control Tower in Houlton is one of only two remaining army aviation control towers in the country. The Town nominated the deteriorating structure to Maine Preservation’s list of Most Endangered Historic properties to bring attention to the need for funds necessary to repair and restore the structure. The community’s plans for the adjacent hanger and land that once housed a German prisoner-of-war camp from 1944-46 are to transfer ownership to the Aroostook Historical and Art Museum. The control tower, once part of the Houlton Air Base, is an important component of the former Houlton Air Base and POW camp, and the unique 20th century heritage of Houlton.
The Standish Corner Historic District is a small district comprised of six 18th and 19th century structures on eight acres in the village center of Standish in Cumberland County – within commuting distance to Portland. This is both a National Register historic district (established in 1993) and a Local Historic District, established via referendum and by ordinance adopted by the citizens of Standish in 2003. (A local survey by Standish citizens stated that the historic and rural character of their community was of utmost importance to the.) The Daniel Marrett House (above), owned and operated as a museum by Historic New England, is located here.
Late in 2005, the Standish Historic Preservation Commission approved a proposal by one of the district’s property owners to relocate their c.1793 Federal-era home 200+ yards from its current corner location in the village center and demolish the historic barn in order to clear the site for speculative new commercial development. Local citizens, in an effort to have the HPC’s ruling overturned, reacted by taking legal action against the Town of Standish. They also nominated the corner property to Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Properties list, prompting Maine Preservation’s Board of Trustees to consider the larger community impacts resulting from the HPC’s approval of the property owner’s plan.
The Board of Trustees felt strongly that the pending relocation/demolition/redevelopment combined with additional development pressures on the village core, have endangered the status of the entire Standish Corner Historic District. The development pressures felt in downtown Standish are illustrative of the impacts being felt in historic village centers across southern and coastal Maine.
The Stockholm Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, built in 1920, doubled as a World War II lookout for enemy planes potentially infiltrating U.S. airspace from the north and east.
This steel and wood structure has remained a beloved local landmark for over 65 years. The Maine Forest Service deeded the structure to the Town in the mid 1970s, and since that time the citizens of Stockholm have endeavored to keep their local landmark maintained and preserved for future generations. They intend to incorporate the tower into a public walking area, and interpret the history of the tower.
Maine Preservation’s Board of Trustees acted on the Town’s nomination for Most Endangered status in order to help them raise awareness and funds to protect and preserve the Stockholm Mountain Lookout Tower for future generations.
To make a contribution, or to learn more, please contact the town of Stockholm at (207) 896-5659.