National Register

Preservation Timber Framing - Winter Street Church, Bath

Bath, Maine’s City of Ships, experienced a dramatic boom in construction in the early part of the 19th century. The historic Winter Street Church is just one of the landmarks to survive from this period. Erected in 1843 in the Gothic Revival style with Greek Revival overtones, it was designed by architect Anthony Coombs Raymond and enlarged in 1864 with the addition of an Italianate-style parish hall designed by Francis Fassett. Twenty-five years later, John Calvin Stevens, once a student and later colleague of Fassett re-designed and oversaw the 1890 renovation of the sanctuary. The building complex, saved from demolition in 1971 by its current owners Sagadahoc Preservation, Inc. (SPI), is listed in the National Register as both a stand-alone building and a contributing building to the national and local historic districts.

Since owning the complex, SPI has worked diligently to carry out steeple repairs, re-roofing and window restoration and, in 2014-15, the replacement of the heating system. Tragically, while the church portion of the complex was closed due to lack of heating and other considerations, a severe 2015 storm struck the region causing a large portion of the vaulted ceiling in the sanctuary to collapse. Sagadahoc Preservation then had to remove cartloads of debris and thoroughly clean the historic space. Part of its efforts involved identifying and saving portions of the remaining plaster ceiling to capture paint colors and stenciling work from the 1890 renovation and other periods, as well as removing remaining unstable plaster ceiling which reached 27 feet at its highest point.

 An RFP was put together and after a generous lead fundraising gift from Bath Savings Institution, several bids came in. Ultimately, Preservation Timber Framing, Inc., led by Arron Sturgis, was chosen as the construction contractor for Phase I. Not only did Sturgis bring extensive experience working with historic buildings and churches to this project, he also suggesting foregoing pricey rented scaffolding, and constructing wood timber-frame staging instead. This ingenious plan permitted workers to access the highest reaches of the ceiling from timber framing that will remain in place in anticipation of the day when the ceiling can be fully reconstructed. 

Arron Sturgis is an esteemed member of the Maine Preservation family, having served as both board president and a dedicated board member. His work in Bath with Preservation Timber Framing produced a practical solution that saved tens of thousands of dollars in rental expenses, met SPI’s pressing challenges, and exemplified how traditional craftsmanship can neatly address contemporary building needs.

46 Lisbon Street, Lewiston

The building at 46 Lisbon Street has been an iconic presence in downtown Lewiston since 1895. Best known as the home of Grant’s Clothing for nearly 60 years, the building was purchased by Terry’s Bridal in 1985—the same year 46 Lisbon was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The owner, Kevin Morin, had two goals for the project. First was the desire to be an active participant in the ongoing resurgence of downtown Lewiston. The second was to rehabilitate a significant building in a way that respected the history of the space while also introducing elements of modernity. Floor plans were changed minimally. Doors, interior windows, and openings were preserved, and the original wood floors were sanded and refinished.  Entirely new electrical, plumbing, heating, and communications systems were seamlessly integrated into the historic fabric.

Despite these large-scale enhancements, it was the attention to small details that lent this project its defining character. Gas powered brass light fixtures found in the basement were restored, and historic doors that had been removed were repurposed as sliding barn doors. Original wavy glass still present in the historic windows was retained; a large metal skylight was preserved and reopened. A huge wood and glass display box that had been sitting on the third floor unused for decades was repurposed as a dramatic chandelier above the third -floor kitchen. It’s also crucial to the integrity of the interiors that the owners maintained the intricate wood trim and doors, most of which were original and in excellent condition.

The project’s success is due to collaboration and a shared sense of mission among several partners.  The City of Lewiston played an integral part in making the project a reality – both with financial support and by connecting the owners with other organizations. Coastal Enterprises, Inc. and Maine Preservation also played essential roles by providing guidance, historic insight, depth of experience, and in the case of CEI, financial investment. What was once a vacant, neglected and vulnerable building is now a fully rehabilitated, exquisitely designed and constructed landmark in downtown Lewiston. The project is a fine example of small-scale redevelopment, and of what can be achieved with collaboration and vision.

Stewart Library, Corinna

Dedicated as a memorial to the parents of millionaire, Levi M. Stewart, the Stewart Free Library was designed by William H. Grimshaw and completed in 1898. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style, its defining clock tower looms above a three-bay façade of structural brick and granite. The original library, auditorium, and offices inside remain largely unchanged. Added to the National Register in 1974, the building stood at the center of civic life in Corinna for many years, hosting gatherings, graduations, Christmas concerts and other popular town events.

When the upper portion of the tower was threatened with demolition, Ames Associates spearheaded an effort to assess the library’s structural condition and gain recommendations for rehabilitation from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and Becker Structural Engineers, in cooperation with the Town’s board of selectmen.

Well over a century old, the clock tower masonry was in poor condition due to wind-driven rain, freeze-thaw action and deferred maintenance. These realities led to serious concern over the stability and safety of the tower structure. Of particular concern were areas adjacent to the clock faces, where water was able to enter the wall cavity due to failed joints and absent flashing. The corbelled brick at the base of the tower was also deteriorating as were wood and slate elements at the towers’ peak. 

An initial design by an engineering firm proposed demolishing the top 30 feet of the tower and re-building it with a structural steel core. Thankfully, this approach was abandoned, and a second opinion by Becker Structural Engineers agreed with Ames Associates that the tower could be stabilized and rehabilitated. Repairs entailed the selective re-build of the exterior layer of bricks, stabilization of the interior bricks, repairs to flashing at the clock faces and a complete re-pointing and cleaning. The steeple was stripped and re-flashed, re-shingled and all wood elements repaired in place with epoxy or replaced as needed. The wooden elements were also repainted. 

In Phase II, funded by a $1 million grant from the Next Generation Foundation of Maine, original windows and slate roofing were restored or replaced in kind, and an elevator -- along with a new stair and lobby—were installed. The stairwell addition was designed to meet Maine historic Preservation Commission recommendations and to stand independent of the historic fabric, making use of a structural system which is incorporated within the stair’s carriage, with the stringers acting to resist wind and seismic loads.

This iconic brick tower and steeple were very close to being torn down and reconstructed in a non-descript fashion. But tireless efforts in support of the restoration and fundraising proved successful thanks to cooperation among citizens, architects & engineers, Maine Preservation, non-profits, and state authorities. The resulting structure demonstrates the rallying power of a small, rural Maine town when the cause for preservation is rooted in local civic pride.