2016 Honor Award

Halfway Rock Light Station, Harpswell

Halfway Rock Light Station was constructed in 1871 to serve as a beacon at the entrance to Casco Bay. Located ten miles from the mainland, it deterred shipwrecks from transatlantic vessels from Downeast, where the chain of lights were: “First Monhegan, then Sequin, Halfway Rock and then you’re in it.” It was deemed a ‘wave-swept’ or ‘stag’ lighthouse--one of just a few lighthouses in the U.S. deemed too dangerous for keepers to bring their families therefore operating in an unusual degree of isolation. The site consists of a seven-story granite tower and a contiguous two-story wood structure used as boathouse and solitary living quarters. The lighthouse was manned continuously from the time of its construction until 1975, when the beacon was automated. By 1980, the wooden boathouse and living quarters was slated for demolition--but concerned preservationists intervened. In 1988, the light station was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2014, Halfway Rock Light Station was deemed surplus property by the federal government and offered at public auction. Visitors agreed that the structure was in dangerously degraded condition; steel elements of the tower had corroded, all windows and doors were broken or missing, and much of the boat ramp had been destroyed. While the US Lighthouse Protection Act required that surplus lighthouses be offered to qualified non-profit custodians for free, every organization that expressed interest in Halfway Rock withdrew in response to its condition. 

The Presumpscot Foundation, however, was unaware of the chance to acquire Halfway Rock Light for free, and participated in the public auction that followed. Of the three interested parties involved in the majority of the bidding, TPF was the only one interested in preserving the site for its history, and it won the auction. Still, difficulties did not end there: a bureaucratic error in the 19th century meant that the lighthouse itself was federally owned but the rock still belonged to the State of Maine! The ensuing legal process lasted over a year, delaying preservation efforts.

And there were still more challenges: restoration efforts at Halfway Rock Light were not eligible for federal tax credits (because there was no feasible income-producing use), but the deed secured from the federal government required that all work be compliant with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. Add to that, of course, a location plagued by transport and weather difficulties that destroyed three small boats and two outboard motors in the first year of work. Despite all these obstacles, the Presumpscot Foundation moved forward, securing 200 historic images, 75 news stories and 26,400 pages of logbooks.

Work to restore the buildings to a 1950 period of significance is now complete; the 80-foot boat ramp was reconstructed and a small boat and guest mooring have been placed at the site; the exterior of the two-story boathouse and living quarters was repaired and replaced; and the masonry repointed and the iron ring atop the seven-story tower realigned. On the interior, the second-story living space and kitchen were restored, a modern electrical system and composting toilet installed; and original Douglas fir bead board paneling (once concealed under five layers of wall coverings) has been revealed. Removal of the remnants of a 1939 doorway that had been destroyed during later reconfigurations revealed a liquor bottle placed there on Christmas Eve, 1938 by keeper Arthur Strout and assistant Bill Clarke, likely marking their disgust about the disbanding of the U.S. Lighthouse Service scheduled for 1939. And a small boat and guest mooring have been placed at the site.

While public access will always be restricted because of the site’s inherent dangers, general interpretation of the lighthouse and its history are readily available through a new website. Thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Presumpscot Foundation, Halfway Rock Light Station—a site of great significance to Maine’s maritime history, endures. It is quite literally a shining example of the preservation of Casco Bay’s extraordinary heritage.

George S. Hunt Block (660 Congress St.), Portland

The George S. Hunt Block at 660 Congress Street is a designated landmark in a local historic district, and a contributing building to one of Maine’s national historic districts. Built in 1886 and designed by noted Portland architect Francis Fassett and his associate Frederick Thompson, it is a prominent example of the once-popular Queen Anne style.

In 2011, the previous owner abandoned plans to rehabilitate the building in the wake of a destructive fire. They had demolished the building's interiors at the behest of their engineer, leaving only the historic facade and roof, which had been severely damaged by the blaze and suffered from the effects of years of deferred maintenance.

A complete transformation began in December 2011 when 660 Congress was purchased by, Kenn Guimond, who served as both the developer and general contractor. His contributions to the project were singular. Not only did he meet and exceed the Secretary’s Standards for Rehabilitation of the exterior, but his commitment to design excellence underscored a respect for the quality and history of the original building. Where others might have seen an opportunity for shortcuts, he chose to pursue a thoughtful rehabilitation, with a spirit of integrity and attention to detail that honored the spirit of 19th-century building practices.

Guimond’s initial challenge was to envision the interiors without any existing documentation reflecting their original design. Guimond returned to what remained of the building, the historical facade, and traced the silhouette of the mansard roof with gently curving walls. At the ceiling, the expansive volume of the roof is revealed with dramatic light coffers that bring light into the spaces through skylights and hidden architectural lighting.

In other areas, fragments of history such as arched doorways, fireplaces and brickwork were left untouched. The new residential entrance features a blackened steel stair with solid white oak treads, fabricated by a local Maine welder. Many of the improvements are hidden from view, such as new HVAC and utilities, code compliant structural work, and upgraded environmental and life safety systems. The facade was the most important historical aspect of the project and was meticulously rehabilitated. New copper roofs were installed, and unsightly downspouts were returned to their original concealed brick pockets. The pressed tin frieze and dentil ornamentation were carefully restored on site, and rotted wood storefront window frames were replaced in kind. This was accomplished on a logistically complicated site with limited private property available for staging.

The team approached the $2M redesign with a vision to revitalize the landmarked facade and modernize the building’s interior, allowing the spaces to flow fluidly together. The result is a building aware of the past, but not bound to it. The 7,500 square foot structure was completed in 2016, and includes a pair of two-bedroom apartments, and a light filled commercial space on the ground floor with a spacious basement retail space.

The time and effort invested in the rehabilitation has created a building in dialogue with its own history, reflecting the commitment to design shared by the people involved in its past and present.

Gray Memorial United Methodist Church, Caribou

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Caribou, now called Gray Memorial United Methodist, was dedicated on November 16, 1913, to serve a congregation that had outgrown an earlier 19th-century building. Though the church did not endure radical structural changes over its lifetime, vinyl siding was installed over the historic clapboards in the 1970s and a number of the covers installed to protect the stained glass became damaged and discolored.  The steeple needed considerable work on both siding and roof, and copper pinnacles on the steeple were in need required polishing and repairs.

In preparation for the church’s 100th anniversary in 2013, the congregation of Gray Memorial United Methodist, embarked on a capital campaign to raise funds for restoration of the exterior. The church also received two grants from the Maine Community Foundation’s Steeples Project to support this work: both an Assessment Grant and a Steeples Grant. With funding secured, work began in 2012.

Vinyl siding was removed; surviving clapboards were restored and repainted. Similar wood clapboards were used to replace missing and seriously damaged elements. Two stained glass windows were removed and carefully restored before being reinstalled into newly replicated sashes. Because of the height of the steeple, a special crane had to be brought in for work to continue. When the copper globes at the top of the steeple were removed for cleaning and repair, workers discovered that one had a bullet hole and had been etched with several names. After restoration, it was returned to its original location.

Work was completed in time for the church to celebrate its 100th anniversary in October of 2013. The congregation displayed a remarkably strong commitment to the preservation of their historic sanctuary. It’s thanks to their sterling efforts that Gray Memorial United Methodist Church will remain an elegant and vibrant part of the community for many years to come.

Edmund E. Goodwin House, Springvale

Edmund E. Goodwin built his Queen Anne-style house on Main Street in Sanford’s Springvale Village in 1899, soon after his retirement. It remained the property of the Goodwin in his family for the next 115 years. The exterior of the house has been long admired as an unaltered architectural gem, and the interior remains largely unchanged as well. The ground floor woodwork is still coated with original varnish and every door still has the ornate knobs, key plates and hinges installed in 1899. The wallpapers in the parlor and front hall are original to the structure and have survived in fine condition. The Goodwin House even retained virtually all of the original knob-and-tube wiring and switches.

Some alterations were made while it remained a Goodwin family home. Dropped-ceilings were installed throughout much of the first floor during the 20th century. There was also the natural degradation of materials, especially in the side porch and cupola. The home was not heated the winter preceding the Sanford-Springvale Historic Museum’s acquisition of the property, which led to the failure of the home's furnace. There was also no source of heat above the first floor other than natural convection, though indications of former stove openings could be seen in many of the upper rooms.

When Harland Eastman at the Sanford-Springvale Historic Museum just next door discovered that E.E. Goodwin’s granddaughter was selling her historic home, they agreed to purchase and restore the residence in order to create additional storage, and open the building for tour groups.

During rehabilitation work, degraded clapboards were replaced and the entire exterior was scraped and painted. Custom shutters were made for each window and UV-resistant acrylic sheets crafted for the interior to serve as storms. The drive and walkways were removed and repaved, and new landscaping put in place. Notably, hot air heat was restored to the ground floor, and hot water heat installed on the second floor and both house and stable were rewired with modern systems. The unsightly drop ceilings were also removed and original ceilings restored. Furniture was reupholstered with original fabric made in the local mills.

More than seventy Sanford citizens and institutions donated a total of $120,000 to put the house back in order. It’s now open to visitors, and more than 500 students have already toured the property, with many more expected in the near future.  Thanks to the diligence, generosity and commitment of society members and community residents, The Goodwin House stands as an exemplar of what can be done to preserve Maine's history.

Westbrook Seminary Building, Alumni Hall, Portland

Built in 1833 in the Federal style, the Seminary Building was the first structure built for Westbrook Seminary, a progressive, co-educational school founded by the Kennebec Association of Universalists. The iconic bell tower was relocated from Portland’s 1825 Market House. A rear annex built circa 1894 in the Colonial Revival style was later moved and converted to use as a chapel.  The Seminary Building was renamed Alumni Hall in 1894 and remains the primary focal point of the campus to this day.

Over the last century, Westbrook Seminary underwent various name changes, finally merging with the University of New England’s Portland campus.  Alumni Hall was renovated in 1938 and again in 1987, and interior alterations created a chapel, theater, chemistry labs and art and music studios, resulting in a patchwork of modifications from different periods.  In the 1980’s, exterior brick walls were painted purple, the original windows were replaced and the fine belfry dome sheathed in asphalt shingles.

By 2014, the once proud structure suffered from significant water damage, a non-compliant exterior fire escape, and mechanical, plumbing, safety and accessibility deficiencies in both the original building and the chapel addition.

Trustees at UNE voted to bring back Alumni Hall, initiating a comprehensive interior/exterior renovation.  The scope of work included restoring the exterior as it appeared between 1868 and 1910, when it was painted white and had twelve-over-twelve double-hung windows with operable shutters. Structural deficiencies of the rear annex warranted demolition and the construction of a replica structure that incorporates the original massing, brick base, window pattern and large interior space with vaulted beadboard ceiling.  The original interior stair retained with only slight modifications, and the general central hallway layout was respected. New interior doors and casings were crafted based upon historic remnants, and pendant light fixtures were reintroduced based on historic photographs of the interior.

Outside, masons repaired cracks in the stone and repointed the facades. Other teams repairing and replicated decorative woodwork including the cupola, the eaves and the entry surround, and reclad the belfry – this time, not in asphalt but copper. They replaced windows with appropriate reproductions and reintroduced operable wooden shutters. Finally, the courtyard between Alumni Hall and McArthur Gymnasium was modified to better fit the landscape and to introduce an ADA accessible entry to the new elevator lobby.

At a reopening ceremony last June--182 years to the day after the building opened to welcome its first class of students--Westbrook College alumni were the first to tour the completed interior and view historic portraits, paintings and a beautifully restored 1950’s era mural decorating corridor walls of the restored heart of the campus.  Alumni Hall will now serve as the crossroads of administration and student life, providing executive office space on the second floor, classroom and event space on the first floor, and a comfortable student lounge at the lower level.

After sitting vacant for over a decade, the centerpiece of UNE’s Portland campus and its historic green have now been restored to their original grandeur, achieving President Ripich’s goal of bringing Alumni Hall building back to its rightful place as the center of student life.

Merrill Memorial Library, Yarmouth

Built in 1904-05, the Merrill Memorial Library holds a prominent position in the heart of Yarmouth, both culturally and physically. Designed by noted architect Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, the Colonial Revival structure is built of local brick with granite highlights.  The classic tripartite floor plan originally allowed for a central entrance with a spacious, 1-1/2 story reading room. To one side was circulation desk and closed stacks; open stacks stood opposite.

In 1987-88, the Town undertook the first major addition to the Library. The scope of this work included cutting through the back of the building to create a three story addition, creating a   code compliant elevator and stair, an on-grade entrance into the side, and transforming the existing basement into usable space. The renovation was well-considered--but as is the case with many such projects, the focus was on the addition, leaving the original building largely unaddressed.  For years, the Yarmouth Historical Society occupied the 3rd floor. Their departure was the catalyst for the Trustees and town officials to consider a master plan to revitalize the cherished building.

In 2014, Library Trustees agreed to move forward. They sought to repurpose the third floor for library use, and to create an 80-seat meeting room for increased public access and appreciation.  The original arch in the Reading Room/Workroom was to be opened, relocating the workroom to a new space while creating a quiet study area.  Energy efficiency was key with systems upgrades, insulation and sealing, and rehabilitation of the existing windows.  .  The Trustees and Library Director took the lead in the initial process and fund-raising. In a public-private partnership, the Town Manager supported the endeavor and residents of Yarmouth voted to dedicate significant funding.

The extensive scope of work included rehabilitation of existing wood and aluminum windows, restoration of the original lighting plan with the addition of backlighting, terrazzo refinishing,  plaster repair, floor refinishing, new paint, and restoration of the oak woodwork. In addition, it included the construction of a new entrance using compatible materials, and further work to ensure the building was up to code and met ADA accessibility requirements.  Of special interest are the shades for the lunette windows. The originals had no room overhead for typical shades. In Yarmouth, the architects recessed motorized units into the plaster ceiling instead of obscuring the original woodwork. 

The Merrill Memorial Library is now a completely renewed public building. With restored historic features, added insulation, and a new high- efficiency mechanical system, the building’s overall energy consumption has been reduced by 30 percent, allowing it to be both physically and operationally sustainable well into the future.  The new entryway serves as a light-filled community gathering space and also creates a safer, more accessible approach to the library.  Many of the products used in this project came from Maine and New England companies: the water-struck brick from Auburn, for example, was created in the same type of mold used over 100 years ago, and special dark-flashed brick headers were donated by a Vermont brickyard.

The Merrill Memorial Library rehabilitation and addition exemplifies the benefits of public-private partnerships working with historic preservation architectural/engineering teams in order to create strong outcomes for an important public building.

Kennebec County Courthouse Ceremonial Courtroom, Augusta

The ceremonial courtroom on the second floor of the Kennebec County Courthouse is part of an addition added to the original structure in 1885. The Maine Supreme Court held annual sessions in this room from that date on, and its style is consistent with the Renaissance Revival of that period. It is highly decorated, with an ornate coffered ceiling, carved moldings, and portraits of past justices. Sporadic modernization of the lighting and heating systems have occurred since that time, but few other modifications have been made. 

Unfortunately, the courtroom had no sprinkler system, no room for modern security protection or AV equipment. The Maine Supreme Court moved to the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland in 1970, and as building codes and accessibility standards changed and the need for security became more acute, active use of the courtroom ceased.

In 2010, officials decided to fund a new consolidated courthouse behind the Kennebec County Courthouse. With this decision came the intention to provide access to the ceremonial courtroom, and to renovate it as gently as possible while complying with current codes. State and county officials, court justices and administrators, and several legislators were influential in securing state funding for the project.

Due to the sloping site, the architects were able to keep the new building behind and below the view of the old.  The old and new courthouses are connected by a glass bridge that provides access to the ceremonial courtroom while ensuring security. The careful renovation of the courtroom yielded features such as a new energy-efficient glass entrance vestibule, polished woodwork, and modern technological advances in safety and accessibility.

The once-empty courtroom is an open, working public courtroom once more.  The ornate landmark in the state capital, a unique example of 1890s courtroom design and an important part of Maine’s judicial history, has been stabilized and restored to its civic role, made safer and more secure, and reopened to the public.

St. Andre's Convent, Biddeford

Constructed in two phases in 1916 and 1930, the Colonial Revival style St. Andre’s Convent is part of a one-time Roman Catholic parish complex located southeast of downtown Biddeford in a neighborhood dominated by late 19th and early 20th century residences. The parish stood at the center of French-Canadian life in Biddeford, and enlivened the neighborhood for over a century and the neighborhood’s landscape for over a century before being closed in 2009.

Acquired by the Biddeford Housing Authority from the Catholic Diocese of Portland in 2015, the complex is and now known as Mission Hill, the project utilized federal tax credits and was redeveloped according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards with the guidance of the National Park Service and Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

Biddeford Housing Authority saw Mission Hill as a chance to improve the quality of housing in the area and help stabilize one of Biddeford’s most troubled lower-income neighborhoods. Envisioned as multi-phase project to redevelop the entire St. Andre’s complex, it represents an investment of over $5 million and will include both residential and community spaces.

Extensive work on preliminary stages of conversion included restoring existing wood windows and exterior masonry and replacing vinyl replacement windows. A wooden staircase added to the interior of the building was lined with wood trim and railings fabricated to match historic materials and patterned tin ceilings on the second floor were carefully removed and reinstalled. The historic convent now contains fifteen one-bedroom and studio apartments for residents over the age of 55 who earn no more than 60% of the area median income.

This project to rehabilitate and reuse St. Andre’s Convent, together with the redevelopment of the rest of the complex, represents an important effort to revitalize an under-recognized neighborhood, provide high-quality housing for local residents, and ensure a brighter future for a treasured historic complex.

Charles E. Moody School, Good Will-Hinckley, Fairfield

Built in 1906 to serve as a boys’ school at the Good Will-Hinckley orphanage and home for needy children, the Charles E. Moody School closed in 2009 and stood vacant for almost forty years. In 2011 a committee including private sector and nonprofit professionals mapped out a new vision for Good Will-Hinckley which included establishing new leadership, partnering with an outside organization, and selling some of its real estate. In 2012 planning began for renovating and expanding the Charles E. Moody School. Today, the Charles E. Moody School now houses the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, Maine’s first charter high school. 

MeANS provides disengaged and at-risk kids with individualized academic support, and utilizes the extensive natural resources of the campus to promote a curriculum that includes agriculture, forestry, and environmental sciences.

Because the school building had been vacant for decades, significant rehabilitation work was required. Conditions were so poor that there were large openings in the roof, leading to severe water damage and rot throughout the building. Because MeANS hoped to build classroom and support spaces in the lower levels, significant excavation beneath the building was required to achieve sufficient ceiling heights. 

Water incursion, due to a striated rock ledge beneath the basement, proved a serious problem, but a system of drains, vapor barriers, and other means of waterproofing were used to mitigate the threat of future damage. Significant masonry restoration was undertaken on the exterior of the building, and damaged or missing elements of both interior and exterior trim were replicated.

The rehabilitation of the Charles E. Moody School means that this historic building will continue to serve the educational needs of Maine’s youth well into the 21st century. It’s a success story all Mainers can be proud of.

Hodgkins School, Augusta

In the late 1950s, the city of Augusta undertook a comprehensive program to accommodate rapidly rising numbers of school-age children of the postwar baby boom. The Ella R. Hodgkins Intermediate School was constructed as part of this effort, and is a largely intact example of a building intended to utilize the newest and most up-to-date principles of postwar design and construction.

After 50 years of service, Hodgkins was closed at the end of the 2009 school year. While the sports fields remained active, the building stood empty—a neglected landmark subject to vandalism and ongoing damage to the skylights and glass block of the rear facade.

Although the Augusta Housing Authority did not traditionally involve itself directly in property management, the Hodgkins School offered a special opportunity to fill an urgent need for affordable senior housing, while saving a sound and locally significant building threatened with demolition. A partnership with the Developers Collaborative and a long-term lease from the City of Augusta made the project possible.

The signature glass block that distinguishes Hodgkins School inspired considerable dialogue between AHA, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the National Park Service. Because damaged portions could not readily be repaired, and relatively few structures containing this type of block had been reviewed by NPS, it was clear that the decisions would set a precedent for other mid-century structures. Ultimately, a source for replacement block to match the historic materials was found, and new amenities, such as a healing garden with a stone labyrinth, were added to enhance the lives of residents. Today, forty-seven ADA accessible apartments inside the original building feature modern conveniences and design elements chosen to complement the school’s mid-century design.

Preservation and rehabilitation of the Hodgkins School created desperately needed affordable housing for Augusta’s seniors, and allowed a significant building on a wooded lot near the capital’s downtown to continue serving the community.

Roosevelt School, South Portland

Designed by the celebrated Portland architect John Calvin Stevens and constructed in 1927, Roosevelt School has long been a center of activity on South Portland’s Meetinghouse Hill. After the brick- and cast-iron public school closed in 1983, it continued to be used as an educational center. But after 2012 it was abandoned, and left vacant and deteriorating.

Since developer Ethan Boxer-Macomber acquired it in 2014, the school has been converted into nineteen modern condominium units. Much of the parklike setting has been retained, with careful attention paid to protecting mature trees and maintaining public pathways. The walkability that characterized neighborhood schools in the 1920s made the new Meetinghouse Lofts instantly appealing for new owner-residents.

Although this conversion required significant changes, special care was taken to retain the integrity of the exterior.  Careful thought went into energy efficiency methods that would not compromise the historic brick, such as not over insulating and making sure moisture was not trapped in the wall to avoid spalling during the freeze thaw cycle. A modern addition was constructed at the rear of the building, where it is clearly differentiated from the historic fabric and does not compete in scale or detailing with the original materials.

In the original portion of the building, the brick and cast stone were cleaned and repaired, and window and door openings retained wherever possible. Though historic wood windows had been removed by previous owners, new replacements matching the originals were fabricated; historic stairways and lobbies were also retained.

Meetinghouse Lofts epitomize creative adaptive reuse at its best. The handsome historic school building remains an instantly recognizable and integral part of 21st-century life on Meetinghouse Hill.

Somerset Place, Brewer

Constructed in 1925-26, the former Brewer High School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for

its local significance-- both as the first modern high school in the city and as a strong example of Maine’s early 20th-century school buildings. The building remained in operation as a school until 2009, but was then left largely vacant, except for the occasional use of its large auditorium.

Vacancy had an unexpected benefit. It provided the Brewer Housing Authority with an opportunity to create new, affordable housing for the city’s elderly residents. Because the former high school retained a great deal of its historic integrity, the use of historic preservation tax credits was a natural fit. Work was conducted to uphold the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, and great care was taken in the design phase to preserve the school’s original floor plan to the greatest degree possible. The auditorium was also retained, providing a space for community gatherings and performances.

Classrooms in the newly named Somerset Place were converted into twenty-eight apartments, with original walls retained wherever possible. An emphasis was placed on retaining existing historic finishes, including tin ceilings. Because the original windows had been replaced in the 1990s, new windows were installed replicating the original configuration of lights. Similarly, the building’s original front doors, which had been lost, were replicated. A ramp, necessary for wheelchair accessibility, was also installed at the rear of the building near the parking area.

Brewer High School was constructed to meet the needs of the community as it developed in the 1920s. Today, Somerset Place epitomizes adaptive use that preserves a beloved and recognizable building and will allow it to continue to meet a community’s changing needs well into the twenty-first century.

Knox County Courthouse, Rockland

The impressive, Italianate style Knox County Courthouse opened on March 9, 1875.  A half-story base of granite supported the brick building and a flight of stairs ascended to an elegant portico supported by Doric columns.  The original Palladian window above the portico looked out onto a small balcony surrounded by a granite balustrade.  Sides of the building were adorned with two-story windows, which provided light for the courtroom.  Surrounding the roof line was a heavy cornice, and four chimneys, two on each side.

In 2015 Building Envelope Specialists quickly uncovered that poor repairs had led to deteriorating mortar joints and fractures in the wall assemblies. A closer investigation revealed that the original mortar mixture was natural cement, and well-intended repairs using Portland cement had only accelerated the aging process.

Arresting moisture infiltration was the main goal for this project. Exterior repairs included uniform repointing of masonry elements using a mortar composition matching the original.  The fractured granite was mended using an epoxy with dark sand aggregate to match the original stone.  Replacement windows were also installed complementing the style of the building, during which proper measures were taken for lead and asbestos abatement.  

Rockland’s Italianate courthouse has now been preserved and restored so that locals and visitors alike can admire its history and architectural beauty.  This is truly a community success story, since the people of Knox County provided the funding to insure that their county court house was repaired to the highest standards, and will remain a distinguished local landmark for years to come.

Brick North, Thompson's Point, Portland

Constructed in 1904 to replace facilities destroyed by fire, the Maine Central Railroad Car Repair Shop and Planing Mill enjoyed a long and storied industrial history. The 30-acre site was used to store steel for Liberty Ships during the Second World War, and later became an industrial center at the western edge of Portland. Today, the building known as Brick North is one of only two historic survivors from Thompson’s Point’s past.

When Forefront Partners acquired the building in 2013, Brick North had great potential--but decades of deferred maintenance and intermittent vacancy had taken their toll. Water had penetrated the damaged the roof and windows as well as much of the structure below.

During the extensive rehabilitation effort, brick was repointed, new utility lines laid beneath new concrete floors, and the majority of the building’s structural framework reinforced.

Elements of the building’s historic fabric that could not be retained in place were repurposed: a number of framing timbers, for example, now serve as bar tables in Stroudwater Distillery, and historic metal fire doors have also been reused on-site.

The hard work paid off, making the building a functional and energy-efficient arts and entertainment hub, and a place for a host of new Maine businesses to call home.

This year, Brick North emerged as a cornerstone for the redevelopment of Thompson’s Point, attracting tenants ranging from cafes, wineries, and distilleries to a ceramics studio, a software development company, a circus training space, and the International Cryptozoology Museum. This innovative and energetic adaptive use project has restored economic and cultural vitality to a deteriorating industrial building with profound historic significance.