2011 Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Resources
Lewiston, Maine. Maine Preservation announced its 14th Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Resources List at a press conference at DaVinci’s Eatery in Lewiston, an example of a rehabilitated mill.
The Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Resources List began in 1996 for the purpose of identifying and raising public awareness of the breadth and interest in preserving endangered and threatened historic properties and materials. Maine Preservation is a statewide nonprofit member-based organization that promotes the preservation, protection and vitality of Maine’s historic places and encourages quality design that contributes to Maine community’s unique quality of place.
“Weatherization is a priority forMainehomeowners and over one quarter ofMaine’s housing stock was built before 1940,” stated Executive Director Greg Paxton. “Many of the building materials and weatherization techniques being marketed right now may not be advantageous for existing and historic buildings in terms of cost savings, architectural integrity and structural durability. That’s why it is urgent for us to highlight this issue on this year’s Most Endangered List.”
Other listings this year highlight historic bridges; the Colonial Theater in Augusta; buildings of fiscally challenged institutions across the state, such as the Chocolate Church in Bath, and the Old Blue Hill Academy; and the mills of Biddeford/Saco and Lewiston/Auburn, the latter of which will host the 2011 Vital Maine Communities Conference and Maine Preservation Honor Awards.
“Maine’s quality of place was cited by a Brookings Institute study as both crucial to the future well-being of the state and as endangered,” said Greg Paxton, referring to the 2006 study Charting Maine’s Future, “and it’s biggest threat is suburban-style development that is out-of-place in Maine’s landscape if distinctive towns and villages surrounded by wild and rural areas. This issue brings together people from across the state involved with urban planning, transportation, economic development, and historic preservation.”
New to the list in 2011 are:
- Inappropriately Weatherized Houses are an issue statewide due to global climate change, the recent spike in energy costs and the economic recession. The building supply industry has accelerated marketing of materials, some of which are not advantageous for existing and historic buildings, especially replacement windows. Equally effective and much more inexpensive solutions such as storm windows, shades and curtains, wood stoves or thermostat adjustments can achieve the same performance improvements while not risking damage to historic structural systems.
- The Mills of Biddeford/Saco and Lewiston/Auburn are threatened by vacancy, deterioration, arson, demolition and historically incompatible redevelopments. Bates Mill #5 in Lewiston was recently threatened by a demolition order, the Avon Mill may be razed for a traffic circle, and even the canal system has been proposed to be filled in. These mill towns could examine other cities successful in substantial mill rehabilitation and develop a strategic plan for the remaining mills.
- Historic Bridges: are in a severe state of deterioration due to deferred maintenance. A comprehensive bridge survey, regular examination and aggressive maintenance programs could be cost-effective ways to help retain historic bridges.
- Colonial Theater, Augusta, is threatened by deteriorating conditions caused by deferred maintenance. Efforts are being made to preserve the theater and provide future protection as well as creating financial opportunities.
- Hanson School, Buxton, was offered back to the Town of Buxton in 2010, but was refused. Currently, a citizen initiative to repurpose the building has been introduced and will be voted on in the June 14 referendum.
- Buildings of Fiscally Challenged Institutions, are threatened statewide by deferred maintenance, delayed decisions, and even abandonment due to diminished funding and membership. St. Anthony’s Church in Jackman, an architecturally unique gothic style church built in 1928, was demolished last fall due to cost of maintenance, repair, upgrades and heating. Institutional leaders need to employ strategic planning, building assessments, multiple cost estimates and phasing for the historic landmarks under their care. The following two listed institutions are taking appropriate steps in challenging circumstances.
- Chocolate Church, Bath, is threatened by critical structural issues caused by deferred maintenance, the most urgent of which being the endangered belfry. They are currently raising funds to dismantle and rebuild it.
- Old Blue Hill Academy, Blue Hill, now the Duffy-Wescott Post of the American Legion, has suffered from deferred maintenance, unsympathetic alterations and diminishing income-producing uses, due to a lack of funding currently characteristic of many fraternal organizations. They have partnered with the Blue Hill Historical Society to assess the building and raise funds for its restoration.