Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark--one of only 43 in Maine--in 2000, the Kennebec Arsenal remains one of the best and earliest surviving examples of 19th-century munitions depots in the United States. Built between 1828-1838, the complex of eight Greek and Gothic Revival granite buildings occupies a commanding location on the east bank of the Kennebec River in Augusta. The Arsenal was closed by the federal government in 1903 and, two years later, renovated into the Augusta Mental Health Institute by Lewiston architectural firm Coombs & Gibbs. In the early 1970s AMHI began to move patients out of the buildings and shut down due to the nationwide deinstitutionalization. In 2004, the Arsenal received a Save America’s Treasures grant to repair a deteriorated granite boundary wall and restore the cast iron and granite fence surrounding parts of the 41-acre site, but the property remains in dire need of further attention.
The state sold the property to Neiman Capital of Durham, NC, in 2007 with a covenant requiring the owner to preserve, maintain, and repair the property in order to retain its value. Unfortunately, no major efforts have been initiated to rehabilitate the buildings. The state is alarmed about ongoing, substantial deterioration and filed a lawsuit alleging lack of maintenance and protection of the property and asking for repair or return of the property. Neiman Capital, LLC, denies every allegation. Extensive vandalism and deterioration have occurred since the purchase, including theft of historically significant features (copper piping, cast iron balusters, bronze handrails, etc...), broken doors and windows, peeling paint, graffiti and more. Without help, this property will continue to deteriorate and lose additional significant historic elements.
A comprehensive development plan can save this endangered property and fully utilize its magnificent space and location on the Kennebec River. The arsenal holds great potential for innovative commercial or residential development. Potential development options include: wellness center; senior housing; office; event or business center; educational institute or residential community.