Shop Shop (0)find us on facebook
Maine Preservation
Divider
Divider

2014 Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Places

17th Annual List of Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Places Announced

Portland, MaineMaine Preservation announces its 17th Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Places List during the telecast of WCSH 6’s and WLBZ 2’s 207 on Tuesday, October 28th, 2014.

The Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Places 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, membership organization that promotes and preserves historic places, buildings, downtowns and neighborhoods, strengthening the cultural and economic vitality of Maine communities.

Listings this year highlight Downtown Gardiner, the Sewall Mansion in Bath, the Abijah Buck House in Buckfield, the Anson Town Office, the Lincoln Mill Clock Tower in Biddeford, Biddeford City Hall Clock Tower, the Skowhegan Drive-In Theater, and the Belfast Opera House.

 


Downtown Gardiner

Photo: Jimmy Rodden

THE STORY

The City of Gardiner was incorporated in 1803. Like dozens of Maine towns, Gardiner’s historic downtown was built adjacent to the waterway to be close to a power source and for transportation. Shipbuilding was the prominent industry in the early 19th century before paper and textile mills became the dominant economy later in the century.

THE THREAT

Across the country, historic waterfront communities have been built upon flood plains. Many of these historic downtowns, like Gardiner, have seen strong economic growth and investment in historic properties due to local economic and community development efforts. However, many are now facing a threat that undermines the economic viability of rehabilitating historic structures: flood insurance. The U.S. Government had subsidized flood insurance, but the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 will raise flood insurance premiums for owners of waterfront commercial buildings. Federal projections indicate that premiums could increase by thousands of dollars per year. This sudden major policy shift could put historic waterfront districts in jeopardy.

THE SOLUTION

Policy makers should be promoting these areas to succeed in order to continue to use the substantial public investment in infrastructure. Flood-proofing single buildings can lessen premiums, and entire downtowns can improve flood mitigation, but substantial funding is required. A phased approach to increases in flood insurance, as has been done with residential properties, is essential for existing, especially historic, commercial properties. Sources of funding for such flood avoidance must be developed. In the meantime, Maine Preservation supports continued subsidized rates for historic districts while more permanent infrastructure can be constructed to defend against high waters.

SOURCES

Gardiners/Flood proofing: http://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/2014/05/12/gardiner-hallowell-caught-in-flood-insurance-confusion-a-502989.html#.U4c8tb_nZt4


Sewall Mansion, Bath

Sewall Mansion Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

Sewall Mansion
Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

THE STORY

The Sewall Mansion was built on Bath’s prominent Washington Street in 1844. In 1894, Arthur Sewall, a wealthy Bath shipbuilder and well-known politician, purchased the house as a wedding present for his son. The same year, architect John Calvin Stevens remodeled it in the Colonial Revival style. Another renovation was completed in 1914 and a large addition was added to the back of the house. In 1962, Camilla Sewall Edge, the granddaughter of Arthur, donated the Sewall Mansion to the Marine Research Society. Until 1982, the house served as the Bath Marine Museum. Once the museum moved, the house was once again under Sewall ownership until it was sold to a private buyer in 2008.

THE THREAT

The Sewall Mansion was foreclosed upon in the fall of 2012 and has sat vacant since then. While the property tax valuation is more than $900,000, it is currently listed at less than $300,000 and needs intensive repairs. The previous owner made an attempt at rehabilitation by replacing the original windows and installing new flooring. However, the roof needs to be replaced and leaks have caused water damage.

THE SOLUTION

The large, historic house is currently one of more than a dozen similar properties that are for sale within Bath’s historic district. The 17-room house is ideally suited for multi-family use, or perhaps as a Bed and Breakfast. With the right investor and the right reuse, the Sewall Mansion has great potential.


Abijah Buck House, Buckfield

Abijah Buck House Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

Abijah Buck House
Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

THE STORY

This house is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in rural Maine with most of its historic interior features intact. Constructed 1791, the Abijah Buck House sits on property settled by this French-and-Indian-War veteran and his wife Phebe Tyler Buck in 1777. They were the first family to settle “Bucktown,” later Buckfield, named after Abijah. In 1788, he had 21,000 acres of land conveyed to him on behalf of the town proprietors by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the establishment of the town. He personally received 900 acres, the town’s largest recipient. By 1791 meetings of the town proprietors began to be held at Buck’s house. The house retains a great deal of its original Georgian detail. Much of the original woodwork remains, including substantial raised paneling, interior shutters, and a corner cupboard. It has a 9-foot kitchen fireplace and original painted and stenciled plaster.

THE THREAT

Although the current owner stabilized the structure, much work remains, including entire upgrading.

THE SOLUTION

The owner has agreed to offer the house through Maine Preservation’s Revolving Fund, which is currently working to find a new, preservation-minded owner for this property. In order to protect the rare architectural features of this home, preservation easements will be placed on the property before a sale, and the buyer will need to demonstrate the ability to rehabilitate of this remarkable example of Georgian architecture.


Anson Town Office

Anson Town Office Photo Credit: Sandy Weston

Anson Town Office
Photo Credit: Sandy Weston

THE STORY

The Anson Town Office was built in 1918 to replace the first town office that burned the year before. It has always been a multifunctional building, servicing as the first fire station, meeting house, town offices, and offices for the Sunshine Society. On the second floor, there is a gathering space for the community with a stage. This space also served as the gymnasium for many years.

THE THREAT

In July of 2013, the administrative offices of the town of Anson moved out of the nearly century-old town hall due to poor air quality. In March of this year, voters turned down a proposal to spend $35,000 needed to make necessary repairs to the building. Instead, residents asked to see alternative options for the town office, which include moving or demolishing.

THE SOLUTION

Instead of spending an estimated $300,000 – $400,000 for a new town office, the town could rehabilitate the existing building on Main Street. The present town office is historically significant to the town, and if updated, has the capability of providing a community space on the second floor. Repairing and upgrading the building is a less expensive and more environmentally friendly option than replacing the existing town office.

SOURCES

http://www.centralmaine.com/2014/02/25/anson_town_office_odor_problem_among_town_meeting_issues_/


Lincoln Mill Clock Tower, Biddeford

 Lincoln Mill Clock Tower Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

Lincoln Mill Clock Tower
Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

THE STORY

The clock tower now at ground level next to Lincoln Mill in Biddeford was built in 1853 to sit atop a neighboring mill. It was moved to the top of Lincoln Mill by 1890. The ringing of the clock bell was used to call the workers to their shifts. At the peak of the mill industry in Biddeford, there were 12,000 mill workers in the city. The clock also served to alert the mill’s firemen in case of an emergency.

THE THREAT

Seven years ago, the clock tower was removed from the top of the mill and left on the ground. It was not vandalized, but it was exposed to the elements and the weathervane and bell were sold. Last fall, the city made the decision to demolish the clock tower. In response, historian George Collord and other concerned citizens stepped in to save the clock tower from destruction. They succeeded in deferring demolition.

THE SOLUTION

Collord’s campaign to save the clock tower is aided by a group of engaged high school students who together successfully raised over $25,000 to move the clock tower to a new location. But now additional funds will be needed to restore the tower.

SOURCES

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Time_s_running_out_for_Biddeford_clock_tower_.html?pagenum=1

http://www.biddefordmaine.org/


Biddeford City Hall Clock Tower

Biddeford City Hall Clock Tower Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

Biddeford City Hall Clock Tower
Photo Credit: Melanie Weston

THE STORY

Biddeford City Hall is one of Biddeford’s most prominent landmarks. John Calvin Stevens designed it in 1894 after the original 1860s City Hall was destroyed by fire the same year. The granite face on the first floor of the building is all that remains from the first City Hall. By the early 2000s, the clock tower had seriously deteriorated and the clock itself was no longer working, though all the parts for it are still in place. Two bonds were put before the city in 2008 and 2011 to raise money to restore City Hall, but both failed.

THE THREAT

In 2007, an assessment of the building was completed and in 2012 Biddeford City Council approved minimal, short-term repairs to prevent further deterioration. Many of these repairs involved replacing rotted wood and decreasing the amount of water intrusion into the clock tower. However, these repairs only have a life span of five years and the clock tower itself is still being damaged. The dome has also not been inspected or received any remediation.

THE SOLUTION

While the restoration of the City Hall clock tower will undoubtedly be expensive, the clock tower serves as the symbol of the revitalization of Biddeford’s mill district. The importance of this structure needs to be demonstrated to the city’s citizens in order to pass a bond. Both prior bonds were posed in the midst of the Recession. Also, matching grant money might be raised in order to offset the cost being paid by taxpayers.

SOURCES

http://www.lachmanarchitects.com/our-projects/biddeford-city-hall-clock-tower-restoration


Skowhegan Drive-In Theater

Skowhegan Drive-In Theater Photo Credit: Sandy Weston

Skowhegan Drive-In Theater
Photo Credit: Sandy Weston

THE STORY

Skowhegan Drive-In celebrated its 60th anniversary this summer. The drive-in theater has been open every summer since 1954; however, following Hollywood’s expensive conversion to digital, this may be Skowhegan Drive-In’s last season. Maine once had 39 drive-in movie theaters. At present, there are only 5 still in operation within the state.

 

THE THREAT

Currently, major motion picture studios are converting to digital production. This means that older theaters, such as the Skowhegan Drive-In, need to replace their older, 35mm film projection equipment and screens with new digital equipment. Beyond replacement costs, this new equipment is more expensive to maintain. The estimated cost for Skowhegan Drive-In to convert to digital is $80,000. Because 35mm film is no longer being produced, the drive-in faces closure if it does not convert.

 

THE SOLUTION

There is currently an online fundraising campaign set up to help raise money for Skowhegan’s conversion to digital. To date, support from two community fundraisers has raised more than $12,000. Saco Drive-In recently faced the same issue with its conversion to digital equipment. By entering a contest by American Honda Motor Co.’s Project Drive-In, the owners were able to win a new digital projector. While Skowhegan Drive-In is an important local icon, statewide support may be needed to raise the funds required to keep this drive-in open.

.

SOURCES

http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Skowhegan_Drive-In_theater_struggles_with_digital_conversion_.html


Belfast Opera House

Belfast Opera House Photo Credit: Maine Preservation

Belfast Opera House
Photo Credit: Maine Preservation

THE STORY

The Belfast Opera House is located within the Hayford Block, a large brick and granite commercial building in downtown Belfast. The block is named for Axel Hayford, a businessman and mayor of Belfast, who built it between 1866-1868. The Opera House, originally called “Hayford Hall,” was used for plays, meetings, public events, and dances. It had the seating capacity of 1,300. The space was also used as a sports venue. In 1882, it began to be used for roller-skating and in 1904, the first basketball game in Belfast was held at the Opera House.

 

THE THREAT

While rehabilitation of the Hayford Block has been well performed and the building rented, the Opera House itself remains untouched. The large space is in serious disrepair and is underutilized because of its deterioration. It lacks seating and the equipment it needs to be made usable as a working theater or production space once more.

 

THE SOLUTION

Following the example of other opera houses that have been restored, such as in Waterville and Boothbay, a community effort with donations and sponsorships is needed to revive this venue. A preservation-based rehabilitation could allow the space to once again serve as a community center for performing and visual arts within the town of Belfast. The Opera House could also work as an event space for weddings, conferences, educations events, etc.

SOURCES

http://www.mainememory.net/artifact/98641


2013 Most Endangered List Update

Since 1996: 44 Saved, 25 In Motion, 20 Threatened, 15 Demolished

Kennebec Arsenal, Augusta – A lawsuit with the State is in mediation resulting in repairs.

Annie Mills Farm, Aurora – No progress.

Barrel Grove, York – Bought by sympathetic owner – saved!

Winnegance Store, West Bathe – Rehabbed and nominated for an Honor Award – saved!

Goddard House, Bridgton – Improvements are being made to the house for it to be placed on the market.

Narramissic Farm, Bridgton – The nonprofit owner is working on it.

Stevens School, Hallowell – The State is pursuing options.

St. Joseph’s Church, Lewiston – Has been purchased by a new buyer to rehabilitate.

Odd Fellow’s Block, Norway – No progress.

George Washington Lodge, Pembroke – For sale through the Maine Preservation Revolving Fund.

Stackpole Bridge, Saco – Options under exploration.

Protect & Sell Program

McCulloch House The historically and architecturally significant Hugh McCulloch House in Kennebunk, constructed ca. 1782, is now for sale for the first time since 1801, through our Protect & Sell Program! Read more about the McCulloch House in our Historic Real Estate listings.

Honor Awards

IMG_1305Maine Preservation's 19th Honor Awards will be held on November 16th from 5-8:30 p.m.  

Come celebrate skilled work on key historic buildings in Maine.

 

For more information: visit here.

Field Services

Demo Maine Preservation offers preservation guidance to the stewards of historic buildings in Maine from our professional Field Service Advisor, Christopher Closs. His advice can help get a project off the ground, find resources, or steer a project in the right direction. read more...

Industry Leader Sponsors

mainebiz tag clr   mhd_logoPTF logo

TS_HorizBlue-VectornormalsizeNorthlandlogoMWA-signage-v1Taggart Construction LogoThompsonsPoint_logo_compass_whitesquarenorway savings bank hi res


Divider
© 2017 Maine Preservation | 233 West Main Street, Yarmouth, ME 04096 | (207) 847-3577 | info@mainepreservation.org

×