Becker Structural Engineers

Twitchell-Chaplin Co. Building at Merrill's Wharf, Portland

The Merrill’s Wharf  has long been one of the most dominant buildings in any view of Portland’s historic waterfront. Its incremental construction by the Twitchell-Champlin Grocery Company from 1884 to 1924 contributed to the growth of Maine industry, providing a spice mill, candy factory, and cannery for the commercial port, until its conversion to cold storage in 1962.

Over the following decades, condensation from short-term insulation strategies and incompatible window infill dangerously compromised the structural integrity and historical identity of its five-story, 300-foot-long brick walls.

Working with Winton Scott Architects, Visnick & Caulfield Associates, Becker Structural Engineers, as well as historic consultants Sutherland Conservation and  Metric Construction, owner Waterfront Maine was able to not only save the structurally failing building, but also to create viable office space while retaining the building’s significant character.

Throughout the Merrill’s Wharf building, important historic elements that define the industrial atmosphere of have been highlighted in the design. 

Building Envelope Consultants worked closely with the experienced masons at Knowles Industrial Services to stabilize the failing masonry walls utilizing state-of-the-art injection re-bonded techniques.   

Sutherland Conservation & Consulting’s successful nomination expanded the boundaries of the Portland Waterfront National Register district to include Merrill’s Wharf and helped the project to qualify for historic tax credits. 

Thanks to expertly applied preservation skills, a windowless hulk of a building has been reclaimed and transformed into an attractive addition to Portland’s historic waterfront.

Maine General Hospital

Upon completion in 1874, Maine General Hospital became the first hospital in the State of Maine to be open to the general public. Located atop Bramhall’s Hill, it was designed in High Victorian Gothic style by famous Portland architect Francis H. Fassett as part of the rebuilding of Portland after the Great Fire of 1866.  

Fassett’s ornate design included vibrant polychrome walls, high slate roofs, and a piercing, crested tower.  In 1951, Maine General Hospital merged with two other institutions to form Maine Medical Center, and the Maine General building currently houses the hospital’s administrative offices.

In 2010, a building evaluation found significant problems on the building’s exterior. The slate roof was delaminating, areas of the brick masonry were missing mortar, the brownstone window details were spalling and wooden elements on the windows and tower trim needed to be re-sealed and painted. 

To correct these issues and faithfully restore the exterior of the building to its original 1874 appearance, Main Medical Center hired Becker Structural Engineers, as envelope consultant and Consigli Construction provided construction management as well as performing the necessary masonry, carpentry and window restorations.  Consigli Construction in turn retained G&E Roofing Co, Inc. for all roof repair, Ace Corporation for painting work, J.C. Stone, Inc. for all handcrafted stone materials and Masonry Preservation Associates for window caulking. Kilbreth Inc. supplied various metals, including recasting of tower cresting. Seacoast Scaffold & Equipment Corporation provided and erected scaffolding. 

The $3.8 million restoration, originally phased as a 3-year project, was completed in seventeen months. The work included restoration of the original window sashes and exterior wood trim of the dormers.

The slate and cooper flashing on the roof was replaced and all soffits and all exterior details were repainted. 

Deteriorated brownstone and sandstone elements were repaired and cleaned or replaced where necessary.  During this process, Consigli Construction had all important project documents reviewed and approved by the City of Portland Historic Preservation Division. 

The restoration of the Maine General Building provided a revitalized exterior to Maine Med’s administrative building and returned this 1874 Maine landmark to its former glory. Maine Preservation is pleased to present a 2012 Honor Award for exterior rehabilitation of Maine General Hospital.