Hewitt Block, Rockland

Originally built circa 1873, the Hewett Block at 449 Main Street in Rockland helps define the character of the Rockland Main Street Historic District.

Just a few years ago, the building sat vacant and suffering from deferred maintenance, inefficient mechanical systems, code issues, and an insensitive modernization of the historic storefront which removed the original granite piers and bricked most of the windows.

Thanks to the careful interior rehabilitation and exterior restoration by property owner Richard Rockwell, Peter T. Gross Architects, Sutherland Conservation & Consulting, Maine Coast Construction and Greenworks Development the building is now a vibrant feature of Main Street and an economic asset to the community.

This project sensitively rehabilitated the interior spaces while restoring the exterior of the building to its nineteenth century appearance. 

Poorly executed 70’s renovations were reversed or removed, the bricked up windows were uncovered, missing granite columns on the façade were replicated and new storefronts were created based on historic photos of the building.

In addition, the decorative Italianate style features of the façade were restored and period appropriate exterior light fixtures were added. 

This project also helped bring the building into the 21st century by getting it up to modern code requirements, updating the inefficient mechanical systems and even installing a green roof.     

As a result of this close attention to detail, the project was able to take advantage of significant state and federal tax credits. 

With restaurant space in the rear walk-out basement, retail space on the first story, office space on the second story, and striking contemporary apartments on the third story, the Hewett Block building once again contributes to the economic vibrancy of downtown Rockland.


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 Hall, Bangor Theological Seminary, Bangor

Designed by Charles H. Pond, Maine Hall in Bangor was constructed in 1834 as a dormitory for the former Bangor Theological Seminary and is the second oldest building on the campus.  For over 150 years Maine Hall housed young men interested in joining the ministry who studied at the seminary.

The building has changed a great deal during its life time, beginning with a renovation in the 1850’s which added the Italianate front porch.   During the 1970’s and 80’s many insensitive changes were made to the interior of Maine Hall including the removal of the original staircases. 

In 2005 the Bangor Theological Seminary left their original campus and moved to nearby Husson College.  Four years latter, Community Housing of Maine Purchased the property to convert the former dormitory into affordable housing for the elderly.

The recent rehabilitation work included rebuilding the staircases using the one surviving section from the 1850’s as a model, and returning the missing balustrade to the porch roof in addition to bringing the structure up to modern code.  

A new addition to the rear of the building accommodates an accessible entrance which helped to minimize alterations to the historic interior of the original structure.

Thanks to the work of Community Housing of Maine, Sutherland Conservation & Consulting and CWS Architects, the project created 28 new units of affordable housing for the elderly in downtown Bangor, made use of generous state and federal historic tax credits and achieved LEED Silver certification.

Webster School, Auburn

Auburn’s 1916 Webster School, designed by architect Harry S. Coombs, has an illustrious history as New England’s first school built solely as a junior high school.

In 2006 the Webster School closed its doors and building sat vacant for over four years.

Then, in 2010 Auburn Housing Authority teamed up with Goduti/Thomas Architects and Sutherland Conservation & Consulting to convert the structure into twenty-eight affordable apartments.

The wide corridors, original doors and lockers, and built-in cabinets were all retained during the restoration.

By retaining and restoring much of the original historic fabric such as the doors and wooden floors, this rehabilitation qualified for both state and federal historic tax credits.

Most importantly, the former school continues to provide space for the community; Auburn’s Head Start is now located in the basement and the auditorium continues to serve as a mixed-use space.

The Webster School’s successful rebirth shows how partnerships can take a large vacant space and make it into a community need.