Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Preservation Champion, Deb Andrews
Deb Andrews is a true Preservation Champion.
Through six years as executive director of Greater Portland Landmarks, then briefly as a senior planner for the city before becoming Manager of Portland’s Historic Preservation Program two-plus decades ago, she has advocated passionately and practically --through boom times and recessions--to preserve the historic fabric and architectural quality of Maine’s biggest city. This is our opportunity to say THANK YOU.
Let’s start by sharing a bit of history: Deb moved to Maine from Texas at age 14. After attending Brunswick High School and graduating with a degree in Art history from Bowdoin, she was captivated by an exceptional book called America’s Forgotten Architecture. That chance encounter led to a conversation with Anne Niles a fellow Bowdoin grad and today a trustee of Maine Preservation, who encouraged Deb to learn more about the field of historic preservation. That conversation led Deb to enroll in the graduate program in historic preservation at the University of Vermont, from which she graduated in 1982.
Deb then moved to Albany and served as Director of Preservation Planning and Education at the Historic Albany Foundation for two years. When she learned that Greater Portland Landmarks needed an Executive Director, she was drawn back to Maine. Since coming home, she and her husband Ted have lived in Portland, Freeport, and mostly in a house they built in Yarmouth, where they raised their two sons.
Deb’s tenure at Landmarks from 1984 to 1990, was remarkable. To point out just three accomplishments: the institution of a demolition delay ordinance in the City; a suit to prevent condo development on Long Wharf; and - notably – her pre-eminent role as an advocate for the adoption of Portland’s Historic Preservation Ordinance (one with real teeth!).
In 1990 Deb was hired as a senior planner in Portland’s Planning Department, where she helped get the Historic Preservation Program off the ground. In 1992 she was promoted and named Manager of the program.
Look at these statistics: under her leadership, the number of protected properties in Portland has grown from roughly 1000 to about 2000; the number of historic districts has nearly doubled from just 6 to 11; and the number of historic landscape districts has grown from 5 to 8. It’s a simply astounding record of accomplishment.
But the impact of her leadership goes far beyond statistics.
· In 1997, under her leadership, Portland’s historic districts were expanded to include many more vernacular buildings, proving that historic preservation is not just about high-style architecture; it’s about the locally significant historic built environment that characterizes our communities. She also pressed successfully for the addition of new historic districts for Congress Street, the India Street neighborhood, House Island, and the Portland Company property.
· By collaborating with the Maine Historical Society and Portland Public Library, Deb’s office made sure that the 1924 tax assessor’s photos of most of Portland were scanned, digitized, and made available to the public
· Her office also insured that master plans and preservation plans have been created for our most significant landmark parks and cemeteries.
· All the while, she has served as a resource and mentor for historic district commissions throughout Maine, speaking, training and encouraging.
· The transformation of The Old Port during her tenure is remarkable – now to the most vibrant and highest-rent commercial district in the state.
· Deb was justifiably proud when Commercial and Congress Streets were named two of the Great Streets of America by the American Planning Association.
· And Western Prom has revitalized into the highest value non-waterfront neighborhood in the state – both areas illustrating the nationally documented results that good preservation raises property values – and the quality of life in historic districts.
Put simply, Deb’s contributions to preservation in Maine are unparalleled.
Deb Andrews never stops. And this award doesn’t serve as a punctuation mark on a career that has already impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Mainers. Instead it’s our way of publicly saying thank you --thank you for your vision, thank you for your persistence, thank you for your focus, and thank you for showing our friends and neighbors throughout the State of Maine that our heritage is our legacy.