Barrell Grove, York

THE STORY

Barrell Grove’s deep roots in Maine history began about 1712 as a small house associated with a sawmill. A second adjoining structure was built c. 1760 and both structures were encased in an expanded 1840 mansion. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. It primary associations are with the Sayward, Barrell and Blaisdell families. Owners and occupants included a delegate to Massachusetts’ convention that ratified the Constitution, and New England’s first female novelist. The house remains essentially unchanged from the mid nineteenth century. It retains both eighteenth and nineteenth century woodwork, flooring and plaster, as well as some rare federal-era Moses Eaton stenciling.

THE THREAT

Unoccupied for several years, the house has suffered damage from roof leaks and vandalism. While still structurally sound, it urgently needs a new roof to prevent loss of historic finishes and fabric. The house stands on a lot deemed more valuable by developers than the house itself, and is in danger of being either demolished or renovated in a way destructive to its historical character. It is currently owned by Fannie Mae, to which preservation is not a priority and is offered at $179,000 but is surrounded by $700,000 houses.

THE SOLUTION

A local preservation firm, Groundroot Preservation Group LLC has initiated and coordinated a group of local citizens and officials trying to save Barrell Grove. GPG has examined the building and informally documented its immediate needs. The Town of York’s Community Development Office has offered to explore local protection through historic district ordinances and help securing local tax credits. A local realtor, Gregory Gosselin of York Real Estate, has tried to secure preservation-minded buyers. All are working to assemble a group of investors to secure the property and stabilize it for resale to an appropriate buyer, perhaps through Maine Preservation’s Revolving Fund.