Osgood Building, Lewiston

If you’ve been to downtown Lewiston lately you have seen the amazing renaissance underway, and  likely noticed the four-story, white brick building that rises above Lisbon Street.  Designed by J. Coburn and Sons, a local architecture firm, the Osgood Building and adjoining McGillicuddy Block are the only two surviving commercial structures designed by Jefferson Coburn himself. Typical of Coburn’s eclectic styling, the building was commissioned by Jeweler H. A. Osgood and clad with white English glazed bricks;  no other examples of this construction material are known in Maine. Initially the offices of law firm Berman and Simmons occupied the second floor, but as the firm expanded it eventually purchased the entire building. The Osgood Building has now served as firm headquarters for over 100 years.

In previous work on the façade, an inexperienced contractor made the huge mistake of removing the glazing from approximately 1,500 bricks, then applying paint to match the surrounding ceramic bricks.  The painted bricks began to pull away from the façade, and some even fell off. In another unfortunate change, the building’s brick entry was altered from its original configuration and replaced by a narrow opening which made it difficult for people with wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

Berman and Simmons was committed to staying in the building. However, the firm wanted to modernize the space to better accommodate current needs while also celebrating the building’s history. Working closely with SMRT Architects, P&G Masonry, Warren Construction Group and tax credit consultants Epsilon Associates, Inc. the firm identified replacement of the 1500 damaged, painted bricks as a priority. The project team experienced a particular challenge when they learned  that the original white glazed brick was no longer manufactured in England. Fortunately, the Glen-Gery Hanley Plant based in Texas produces a very close match. Enough bricks were purchased so that all 1500 damaged bricks were replaced and repointed. Other restoration work included new windows facing Lisbon Street that are similar in design to the original storefront windows and reconstruction of the original entry and the installation of ADA compliant entrances.

The Osgood Building was restored in a sensitive manner using the effective Maine Small Project Rehabilitation Tax Program. Not only did the project save and revitalize a prized landmark on Lisbon Street, it added tremendous energy to  Lewiston’s ongoing renaissance.

Amos O. Reed House, Brunswick

In 1881, the prominent businessman Amos O. Reed built a beautiful Italianate home on High Street in Brunswick. The Reeds lived in the house for almost 30 years before selling to the Drapeau family, who called it home for another 70 years. In 2011, Courtney and Donna Neff became the newest owners of this historic house, learning all about its past and committing to a dramatic restoration.

The first challenge? Deciding what to do with a 1980s addition that extended off the back of the kitchen and the master bedroom. The height, roofline, and windows of the addition were completely incompatible with the Italianate architecture of the house, and the quality of the construction proved very poor.  The addition would have to go. Assisted by Mark Wild of G.M. Wild, whose skilled carpenters are recognized for their quality restoration work, the entire 400 sq. ft. two-story addition was separated from the kitchen with a reciprocating saw and torn down.

Crews then gutted the kitchen and discovered that there was inadequate support for the second story. They also had to remove a badly deteriorated chimney before proceeding with rebuilding. On the plus side, the original birch floor was discovered under three layers of wood and linoleum and was restored and re-laid. Quarter-sawn oak cabinets, slate counters and a 1920s stove retrofitted for natural gas were incorporated and now blend seamlessly with the original features of the house. A stunning stained-glass window which the Neff’s had acquired 50 years ago fit perfectly above an antique slate sink. They also duplicated a bay window that adorns the front of the house and installed it in the new kitchen out back. providing both light and a view of a garden.

In addition to the major kitchen renovation, the Neffs installed new insulation, new bathrooms, new wiring and plumbing , and remediated asbestos in the basement. Most of the original features of the house remain intact, including original two-over-two windows, hardwood flooring and steam radiators.  Work on the property also included a complete structural rebuild of the original carriage house. Now completely restored. it’s one of only a few to survive in Brunswick.

The Neffs have created a warm, inviting home while maintaining and restoring its original historic character. Their remarkable restoration work, featured twice in Old House Journal, has truly been a labor of love. The dignity of Amos Reed’s impressive home has been honored, and once again it holds a place of prominence in historic Brunswick.

Whittier Field at Bowdoin College, Brunswick

Bowdoin’s first Director of Athletics, Dr. Frank Nathaniel Whittier, was honored in 1896 with the construction of Whittier Field, now part of the Whittier Field Athletic Complex. The field was developed during a time when intercollegiate sports, such as football, baseball, and track and field, were becoming more and more popular. By 1904 the complex had become so well-used that temporary wooden bleachers were replaced with the Hubbard Grandstand, designed by Boston architect Henry Vaughn. In 1928 the Memorial Gate was added, a gift from the Class of 1903. Whittier field has not only contributed to the athletic education of students at Bowdoin College, it was also the site of a 1972 Olympic Training Camp and the home track of the Olympic Gold Medal winner (and Bowdoin alumna) Joan Benoit Samuelsen.

In addition to witnessing incredible history, the complex has seen major changes over time. Complementing the originals, wooden and later steel bleachers were built around the Hubbard Grandstand, hiding the fieldstone base. The paint scheme on the grandstand was changed as well.

In 2017 Bowdoin College, as part of laying the groundwork for the rehabilitation of the track and Hubbard Grandstand, hired Sutherland Conservation & Consulting to prepare a National Register nomination for the complex. This move assisted in fundraising for the final project, which would restore the paint colors of the grandstand and move the bleachers to the opposite side of the field.

As the project got underway SCC undertook cross-section microscopy paint analysis to determine the Grandstands original paint scheme. Workers also installed new artificial turf on the field and widened and replaced the 1980s artificial track surface. A complication arose when regrading exposed several feet of the foundation below the fieldstone wall of the grandstand. SCC recommended installing compatible benches in front of the wall which successfully screened the foundation without altering the historic structure.

Bowdoin College’s National Register listing and rehabilitation of the Whittier Field Complex has restored key historic elements to one of the most storied collegiate football fields in America while preparing the facility to expand and flourish well into the 21st century.

Reading Room at Lithgow Library, Augusta

The Lithgow Library in Augusta is one of the finest examples of Romanesque Revival architecture in Maine. Pittsburgh architects Joseph Ladd Neal, a Maine native, and his partner Alfred Hopkins were the proud winners of an 1893 design competition hosted by the Trustees of the Lithgow Library. With funding from a challenge match issued by Andrew Carnegie, local subscriptions and a public campaign, the construction was completed in 1896. Built of Norridgewock Granite, the interior features extensive use of quarter sawn  oak trim and stained glass. The library has experienced very few changes since its original design and the Reading Room still features elaborate ornamental plasterwork and extensive gilding in gold leaf.

Changes came in 2015 when the Lithgow Library raised millions of dollars to undertake an extensive rehabilitation and expansion project. After this initial project was completed the Friends of Lithgow Library decided to undertake the restoration of the Reading Room.

Tony Castro and Company assessed the room and made recommendations for its restoration. Sutherland Conservation and Consulting was hired to undertake cross-section microscopy paint analysis to determine the original colors and gilding treatment. The Friends decided to fully restore the original wall paint and gold leaf in two colors, as well as the missing plaster. The total cost for this project was over  $100,000, all raised from private sources. Jon Sampson of Sampson & Company Ornamental Plasterers worked on the plaster, while Tony Castro & Company painted and gilded, using 1,100 sheets of gold leaf imported from Italy.

The restoration of the plaster, gilding, and paint colors has brought the room back to its stunning original appearance and complements the unaltered stained-glass windows and fireplace tile work. The commitment of the Friends of the Lithgow Library to fully restore this space has given the citizens of Augusta, and all those who visit, one of the finest and most spectacular public spaces in Maine.

Lincoln Theater, Damariscotta

On January 26, 1876, an extravagant gala was held to celebrate the brand-new Lincoln Hall. This two-story Italianate brick theater quickly became the social center of the Damariscotta community, hosting dances, roller skating, graduations, community meetings, conventions and live performances. Two small dressing rooms flanking the stage are still filled with signatures and graffiti that tell the story of company productions as far back as 1902. By the 1920s the theater was outfitted to play moving pictures and silent films, eventually transitioning talkies and modern films.

The last ten years have been a time of growth for Lincoln Theater. Renovations added office space, an elevator, and handicap accessible bathrooms. New seats and a Main Street marquee were incorporated followed by air-conditioning, a renovated roof and ceiling, and an upgraded digital movie system.

In 2014, the Maine Development Foundation, in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation, awarded the Lincoln Theater funding through the “Grants to Green” program, leading to a complete energy audit of the building. As a result, the large windows became the main focus of repairs necessary  for the theater to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency. Many of the original windows were broken or missing and needed upgraded weather-proofing to save energy. With support from the Davis Family Foundation and community members, the window restoration project was set in motion, and Bagala Window Works stepped in to help.

Marc Bagala and his team are experts at restoring historic windows, and immediately began tackling seven of the theater’s originals. They uncovered boarded-up windows, re-glazed all existing panes (91, to be exact), and replaced 5 sashes. They also had to remove spray foam insulation, a previous attempt at weather-proofing, because it prohibited the original window weight balance systems from working correctly. They traded out spray insulation for metal interlocking weather stripping, allowing the windows to open easily once again. Last but not least, the team soundproofed the theater’s backstage windows!

This window work did wonders, and natural light now streams into the theater, making the space usable for a greater number of functions. Energy efficiency has increased thanks to the greater insulating power of reglazed panes, and there is better ventilation because of operable sashes. Last, but not least, the restored windows allow all who visit to experience the same excitement and beauty of the original design.

Clark Memorial Methodist Church (Clark Lofts on Pleasant), Portland

Clark Memorial Methodist Church began as a small chapel built according to designs by John Calvin Stevens in 1857. After a prominent Woodford physician, Dr. Eliphalet Clark, co-funded construction of a major addition in 1882, the newly enlarged structure was renamed in his honor.

The congregation thrived until the 1980s when membership started to decline. Sadly, by 2015, the church was no longer financially viable and had to be marketed for sale. Hardypond Development Company, LLC purchased the property the following year, consulting with Maine Preservation to determine how best to re-use the sanctuary.

Though the steeple had been removed in the ‘50s, and an unsympathetic front door installed in the ‘70s, the church was otherwise well maintained and structurally sound with only minor water damage. Through the design process it was determined that the parsonage house could be sold separately, and the sanctuary transformed into  25 market-rate apartments in this popular corner of Portland.

Hardypond Development's intention from the beginning was to enhance the property for modern comfort while leaving the historic character of the church intact. Hillary Bassett at Greater Portland Landmarks, Maine Preservation, the City of Portland Planning Department, and John Shields Architecture were all integral partners in helping Hardypond Construction get the project off the ground.

On the exterior of the church few changes were necessary. All of the porches and entryways were stabilized, and rotted wood removed. On the interior, a floor was added to the sanctuary in order to permit the construction of multiple units. All of the new apartments were configured to showcase original features; one unit even includes a Tiffany stained glass window that once illuminated the high altar. All of the original flooring, wood trim and windows were restored and help to make each apartment unique. The building also features a new laundry room and mail room and has parking for 25 cars.  

Thanks to diligent planning and skilled subcontractors and designers, construction was finished ahead of schedule and the building leased in just three months-- much faster than first anticipated. Planners took extraordinary care to respect the privacy of neighbors, since full-time use would bring greater noise and traffic. Luckily,  the site had ample parking, and the transition from church to residential  housing went smoothly.

The success of the Clark Lofts on Pleasant project has been a huge boost to the continued revitalization of the Morrill’s Corner neighborhood. The rehabilitation of this building, which might otherwise have been lost, exemplifies how creative thinking can meet critical needs while also maintaining the historic character of an urban neighborhood.

96 Federal Street, Portland

Tucked between Franklin Arterial and the Portland Food Co-op the brick apartment building at 96 Federal Street has witnessed countless changes since it was built in 1867. Originally two stories tall and later topped by a third story, the building housed generations of European immigrant families.  

Unfortunately, heavy use throughout the 19th and 20th centuries took its toll; the building fell into disrepair and was eventually abandoned  after the City of Portland condemned the rear porch. Enter Dan Black, and Max and Mariah Monks, who purchased the building in 2015. They acknowledged it was in extremely poor condition. Waves of insensitive attempts at remodeling had removed or shifted several -load-bearing interior walls – including around the central staircase - causing floor joists to sag and crack. Major water infiltration had also ruined the original flooring and damaged portions of historic plasterwork beyond repair.

Nevertheless, the new owners saw potential, and quickly developed rehabilitation plans for all 6 apartments. With help from Maine Preservation and Greater Portland Landmarks, they worked with Portland’s Historic Preservation Board, Planning Board, and City Council to expand the  recently-approved, India Street Historic District to include  96 Federal. With the local historic designation secured, and the expert advice of Maine Preservation’s Christopher Closs, the project became eligible for state and federal historic tax credits.

Several structural changes were required to stabilize the building, including construction of an interior, concrete retaining wall to buttress the original field-stone foundation. In addition to sistering and re-fastening most  of the existing floor and roof framing, the entire structure also had to be jacked up and metal support joists installed to correct a 14” sag in the center of the building. While new electrical, plumbing and sprinkler systems were required, and the rear porches had to be completely reconstructed, craftsmen were able to remove and restore the original windows, and preserve existing interior wood finishes.

The extensive stabilization necessary to rehabilitate this building brought together key public and private partners and illustrates the tremendous impact a small project can have on a historic neighborhood. The restoration of 96 Federal in the rapidly changing India Street Neighborhood, provided much-needed affordable rental housing downtown while also serving as a catalyst for further neighborhood investment.

Prince-Drowne House, Cumberland

In 1907, Elizabeth Drowne gave a remarkable late 18th century house and 100 acres to the Town of Cumberland. The Georgian-style residence she inherited from her father, now known as the Prince-Drowne House, is believed to be the oldest surviving house in Cumberland today. While the surrounding acreage eventually became the Town Forest, the house itself was sold. It passed through a variety of successive owners and gradually fell into disrepair. Numerous parties, including Maine Preservation,  repeatedly tried to acquire it. Fortunately, Flying Point Construction was eventually able to buy it from the family trust and begin rehabilitation.

The scope of their project practically defines the term ‘extensive’! While the house retained many of its original features including Georgian paneling, trim and stair as well as the large central kitchen hearth, it suffered from serious neglect. The roof needed total replacement and three of the four original sills were rotted; one so much that the façade had started to collapse. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, there were no mechanical systems to speak of and the house was in dire need of modern insulation. Luckily, a structural inspection proved that much of the original post and beam framing was intact. Flying Point took pains to preserve and expose the frame, and with the help of Tom Poulin and New Energy Solutions, installed all new electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Flying Point also refurbished and re-mounted many of  the original interior moldings and wood trim and made the house as energy efficient as possible using dense pac cellulose. They even installed a 9kw solar array.

In order to make the house livable for modern needs a new addition was constructed for additional living space and a garage. To make way for this addition the home’s original timber frame barn was relocated to a new foundation and completely restored. Transition points between the original home and new addition were thoughtfully merged by repurposing some original woodwork for use as paneling, benches, counters and flooring. To top this amazing project off, the original chimneys and fireplaces – even the bee hive oven – were completely restored.

With the help of their amazing team of talented craftsmen led by Flying Point Construction, owners Paul Moutol and Maryane Burns turned a forlorn early 18th-century farmhouse into a stunning modern home that retains much of the original fabric. The house has now been sold to new stewards who have moved in and are already enjoying this phenomenal property. The newly reborn Prince-Drowne House is a testament to the power of innovative preservation, and a treasure that residents of Cumberland will admire for generations to come.

Thomas B. Reed School, Portland

In the 1920s the Portland Trolley Company decided to run a line to the amusement park and casino at Riverton Park, providing a key transportation link that led to the development of the Riverton area. By 1926 the neighborhood needed an elementary school to serve its growing population. The Reed School is named for Thomas B. Reed, a Portland native and an influential US Congressman who served the state in the late 19th century. The original building, designed in the Colonial Revival style, included 8 classrooms on two floors. In 1960 a single-story addition was added with 9 classrooms and an auditorium and gymnasium space. The school remained in operation until 1980 when a larger facility was constructed nearby on Forest Avenue. The old Reed School was subsequently used as the central kitchen for the entire Portland school system until 2013, when it became vacant.

The abandoned building fell subject to vandalism, water and mold damage, and rodents. Many of the windows were smashed and others were boarded up to prevent further damage. The school became a shameful symbol of neglect in an otherwise flourishing neighborhood.

To its credit, the City of Portland recognized the problem, and with the help of the community, began to develop a program for reuse. These efforts led to plans for Children’s Odyssey, a nonprofit providing structured programming for children of varied developmental levels, to expand into the 1960s section of the school. In Phase ii, the 1926 building will accommodate 8 market rate apartments. Thanks to a public access easement the former playground area will always remain a welcoming open space for the neighborhood to enjoy.

The extensive rehabilitation began by unblocking and restoring the windows and skylights, once again letting natural light into the space. An insensitive metal mechanical building was removed along with asbestos floor tiles. To accommodate the new use, bathrooms were added to each classroom space while other floor space was adapted to accommodate offices, conference rooms, and storage.

With the help of an incredible team led by Developer’s Collaborative and Children’s Odyssey, and the use of historic tax credits, an important neighborhood structure has been saved and will continue to serve as a community resource for decades to come. Reed lives and all of Riverton’s the better for it.

Administration Building at Stevens Commons, Hallowell

On an eastern facing hill above Hallowell’s downtown, the Maine Industrial School for Girls was established by State officials as a place where so-called, “wayward girls,” between the ages of 7 and 18, who were considered “a danger to themselves or a threat to society, could be safely housed and given a moral, social and academic education.”

The Administration Building at what came to be called Stevens School, was designed by Maine architect William R. Miller and constructed between 1905-06. This two-and-a-half story, hip roofed foursquare building is one of Miller’s more restrained designs, but his love for detail is evident, especially in the striking colonnaded two-story front porch.

Following closure of the Stevens School in the mid-1970s, the buildings were repurposed for state offices. The state put the complex up for sale in 2003 and began moving offices off campus, but the site remained unsold until 2016, when it was purchased by Mastway Development, LLC. Most of the long vacant buildings, considered an eyesore by the community, suffered from neglect and considerable deferred maintenance.

The Administration Building is the first rehabilitation project to be completed at the Stevens School campus. Using state and federal historic tax credits, the building is now professional office space on the first floor with four apartments filling the upper stories.

Deteriorated exterior features have been restored and interior alterations sensitively made to retain historic character, with only minimal changes to the floor plan. The colonnaded two-story front porch had significant structural damage from carpenter ants and rot, and that has now been repaired. Historic windows were rehabilitated, and low-profile Allied storm windows added for efficiency while an inappropriate modern front door was replaced with a more compatible design. Inside, drop ceilings were removed and hardwood floors restored with new hardwood installed in the front hall where the historic wood flooring had been lost. The building was also updated with code compliant sprinklers and  an efficient HVAC system.

The City of Hallowell has contributed to the rehabilitation of the campus with more than a half million dollars in infrastructure improvements funded by a citizen-supported bond issue. Mastway Development also worked with the City to create a campus home for the recently completed Hallowell Fire Station.

Now known as Stevens Commons, this ambitious undertaking is off to a fantastic start, living up to the project’s goals of cultivating community through conservation, restoration, and partnership.

L.L. Bean Home, Freeport

Just a few blocks from the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport sits an unassuming Queen Anne style house at 6 Holbrook Street. Built in the late 1880s for businessman F.W. Nichols and designed by noted Portland architect Francis Fassett, the house was described by a local newspaper as, “one of the handsomest homes in Freeport….”  The home featured distinctive Victorian windows with colored glass, a carriage barn, wood-shingle roof, multiple porches, and a five-color earth tone paint scheme. In 1912, the home was purchased by Leon L. Bean and his wife, Bertha. That same year, “L. L.” invented the iconic Maine Hunting Shoe, the product on which the company, L. L. Bean, was built.  

No. 6 remained in the Bean family until it was sold in 1968. In 1987 L. L. Bean re- purchased it for office and storage space and in 2005, a modern addition was built to accommodate the company’s corporate archives. The house was used for collection storage as the company began planning an intensive restoration.

The Leon L. Bean Home had changed considerably over more than a century. Several additions and porches altered the east, west and south sides of the house; some were poorly-constructed while others detracted from the building’s original character.  The original polychromatic exterior colors were hidden under multiple layers of white paint and the distinctive window sashes with borders of colored glass had been rebuilt with three lights of clear glass.

With careful guidance from architects and consultants specializing in historic preservation; assistance from the Freeport Historical Society and the town’s Project Review Board; and information gleaned from family photographs, L. L. Bean decided to restore the building to the way it looked when the Bean family first occupied the house.

Work began in 2007 with the completion of a historic structures report and concept programming. The first phase focused on the exterior and was completed in the fall and winter of 2014-15. This included the removal of post-1917 additions; reconstruction of the east porch, missing doors, windows and two missing chimneys; a new eastern white cedar roof and copper flashing; clapboard and shingle restoration; foundation repairs; stabilization of the carriage barn; and new exterior paint in the original color scheme. Windows were also restored to their original appearance with reconstruction of the colored glass borders of the upper sashes. 

Phase II, finished in late 2016, included the exterior restoration and interior rehabilitation of the carriage barn for use as the Center’s orientation space; basic restoration of the primary first floor public rooms; new gallery spaces; and construction of a new main entrance vestibule between the carriage barn and the Archives.

As a result of this 12-year effort, the Leon L. Bean Home & Archive Center now offers an accurate glimpse into the life and times of Leon Bean and his family, and into the distinctive style of the architect Francis Fassett. The restored Leon L. Bean Home stands as a shining example of historic preservation and is once again a proud symbol of Freeport’s historic and architectural heritage.

Dow Farm, Standish

On the corner of Dow and Cape roads in Standish, flanked by an orchard and ambling stone walls, you may have noticed a neatly-kept farmstead. Built in 1769, the Dow Farm was purchased by the Dow family in the 18th century and remains in the ownership of descendants nearly 250 years later. The main house was expanded with a kitchen ell in 1832 and a connected barn in 1876. Late in the 19th century, Victorian-style flourishes, including a front dormer, were added. The property was an active farm until the 1930s when the last generation of full-time Dow occupants passed on. From that point until 1974 the Dow family used the property as a summer getaway.

But without full-time residents, the home became susceptible to vandalism and neglect. No modern updates were made, the paint was peeling, the plaster ceilings were falling in, and wallpaper was peeling off. The sills and joints underneath the house began to exhibit signs of rot, and rodents became an increasing problem.

In 1976, Donald Essman noticed the Dow house and, inspired by his strong interest in restoration carpentry, offered to serve as caretaker. The brother and sister who owned the house, Zelma Bryan and Claude White, allowed Don  to move in and begin performing repairs in exchange for rent. Little did any of them know that this would initiate a decades-long restoration of the property, a 40-year labor of love for Don and his husband Mike Bendzela, conducted with the guidance and support of the Dow family, who have established legal life-long tenancy for Mike and Don.

Starting in the 1970s with the development of a long-term restoration plan, the house was repainted, and the plaster ceiling restored in the back parlor. In the 1980s the sill plates of the house were replaced as well as the windows. Don also installed a bathroom, re-clad the exterior in new clapboards, removed the Victorian-era dormer and re-shingled the roof with period-appropriate wood shakes. For good measure, he rewired the house and painted the interior rooms and redid the floors. The 1990s saw new chimneys and fireplaces, a reconstructed woodshed, new granite foundation, exterior repainting, and the installation of reproduction wallpaper. The farm’s pastures were re-established and an apple orchard was planted. In the 18 years of the 21st century interior redecoration has continued, and the barn has been restored.

Through the joint efforts of Don Essman, Mike Bendzela, and the Dow descendants, now represented by Claudia White and Ken Faulstich, the farm buildings and  farmland have been lovingly brought back to life. Their visionary dedication shows the outstanding results that years of persistent, collaborative and careful work can achieve.

The Motherhouse, Portland

The dome of St. Joseph’s Convent, also called The Motherhouse, is visible for miles around Portland, and has stood as a prominent local landmark since its construction in 1909. Enlarged in phases, the three-story classical revival style brick building is ornamented with many beautiful features, including quoins, a detailed copper cornice, and the famous central entry tower topped by the copper cupola and Celtic cross. Home to the Sisters of Mercy until 2005, the order, founded in 1856, has focused on helping people through volunteer work in schools, hospitals and other community institutions. While their numbers have dwindled significantly over the past several decades, the Sisters of Mercy are still working hard for our community. 

In the mid-1990s the Sisters began their search for a new purpose for the Motherhouse, beginning a 20-year odyssey to identify an appropriate reuse plan that was economically feasible, sustainable and in keeping with their mission. This journey resulted in the $15 million rehabilitation of the Motherhouse into affordable senior housing.

In general, the building was well maintained. However, the design and construction phase of the project uncovered a wide variety of challenges. Principally, the layout of the interior. For the Sisters, numerous common spaces, including a large chapel, wide hallways and very small bedrooms were ideal, but not for modern housing. Archetype Architects managed to preserve all of those historic features while creatively converting as much space as possible into new living areas. It was up to Portland Builders to take their design and make it a reality while also updating obsolete HVAC, electrical and life safety systems, improving energy efficiency and removing insensitive and unnecessary additions such as commercial kitchens, hair salons and  nursing home units.

 Support from the City of Portland, the State of Maine, Maine Preservation, Greater Portland Landmarks, the students and staff of the former McAuley School, the Deering Center Neighborhood Association, Sea Coast Management and Developer’s Collaborative were all essential to making this project a success.

The building now contains 66 affordable and 22 market priced apartments for seniors. The Motherhouse could have been sold for a higher return or sat empty for years, but thanks to the Sisters’ vision and mission --and an incredible project team--land around the soaring landmark is open to the public and integrated into the larger community. The Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse – a historic, enduring feature of Stevens Avenue, Deering Center and the greater Portland community – will be preserved and revitalized to carry on the Sister’s mission of caring and community into a new century.