Wiscasset Historic District Commission (SAVED)

The Story

Wiscasset, whose gateway signage states, “the prettiest village in Maine,” is often recognized as a community of beautiful 18th and 19th century historic houses and a charming commercial district along the Sheepscot River. Its dynamic and diverse residential architecture is the envy of many Maine communities and is one of the area’s biggest visitor draws.

In 1973 Wiscasset was the first historic district in Maine listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the architectural importance of this community has long been recognized. The listing itself states, “The constant stream of tourists pausing before these houses reflects the importance of preserving Wiscasset's best natural resource.” Only recently, however, has Wiscasset passed an historic district ordinance and established a Historic District Commission (HDC), providing local protections and guidance to ensure the longevity of the district.

The Threat

After just one complaint from a homeowner who had demolished an historic fence without review from the HDC, the City of Wiscasset is now considering eliminating the entire Historic District Commission. The ordinance was designed to specifically, “prevent, without prior review, the demolition or removal of significant historic buildings or structures within designated districts or designated sites or landmarks and other significant design elements.” The ordinance was passed in 2015, and the commission has only been in place a year. The intent of the commission is that: “The heritage and economic well-being of the Town will be strengthened by preserving its architectural and historic setting, conserving property values in unique areas, fostering civic beauty, and promoting the use of historic or architecturally significant buildings for the education and welfare of the citizens of the Town of Wiscasset.” It is natural for new commissions to experience growing pains, and one individual complaint should not dictate the future of an entire historic district. 

The Solution

Studies have shown that Historic District Commissions increase property values, provide insights to property owners undertaking the difficult job of rehabilitation, and ensure the important and character-defining elements of landmarks are safeguarded for all property owners, residents and visitors. The Wiscasset HDC has not yet had the opportunity to educate the citizens of Wiscasset to the many advantages of commissions, including federal and state grant funds, but is already planning new online resources for property owners in the district and a new online application that should make the entire process easy to navigate. Many other communities across the state have had such commissions in force successfully for many years and others are looking for progressive and straightforward ways to ensure their heritage is celebrated and maintained. We encourage Wiscasset to continue the HDC to allow the community to strengthen its property values, retain the attractive features that attract so many visitors and residents and remain a model for historic preservation in Maine.

Waldo Theatre, c. 1937

The Story

Just north east of the old brick Custom House on Main Street in the village of Waldoboro sits the Waldo Theatre. New York lumber dealer Carroll T. Cooney commissioned the building in 1936, hiring New York theater architect Benjamin Schlanger to design a movie theater for the town and surrounding areas of Midcoast Maine. Opening in 1937 during the depths of the Great Depression, the Waldo provided an inexpensive and dignified escape from the rigors of the time. On the exterior, the two-story brick, steel, and concrete building is Neo-Classical style. The real significance of the theater, however, is in its interior design and construction. Following on his wider-known designs, such as the Cinema I-Cinema II complex in New York, Schlanger’s interior design for the Waldo Theatre suggests minimal Art Deco themes that work alongside modern functional principles of acoustics and viewership. Beside these decorative elements, Schlanger devised an ingenious small application of the “envelope” system of construction, where a space is created between an inner and outer building directing hot air down, cold air up, and a complete change of air every few minutes. The materials used also ensure an essentially fireproof building. Adding to the viewer’s experience was a floor configuration which sloped up instead of down toward the screen to alleviate neck strain, varying seat widths and some seats equipped with headphones for hard-of-hearing patrons.

The Threat

The Cooney Family operated the theater until 1957 when they sold the property, after which the building lay vacant for twenty-three years except for an occasional live performance and use as a Masonic meeting hall. In 1980 the theater was purchased by a physician and his wife who began extensive renovations of the building. According to its nomination for the National Register completed in 1986, the interior of the theatre remained unaltered, though the left side annex was partially converted into medical offices. Since 2006 the Waldo has been managed by the nonprofit Waldo Theatre, Inc., though due to lack of funding for programming and general upkeep, it was forced to close its doors once again in the spring of 2014. The building has suffered water damage is in need of a new roof. Moisture infiltration has damaged interior walls. These issues must be addressed before any other interior renovations or programming decisions can move forward.

The Solution

The past year has brought new leadership to Waldo Theatre, Inc., breathing new life and energy into the quest to reopen this community landmark. A $5,000 grant from Maine Community Foundation for capacity building will allow the group to develop a fundraising plan. A new roof is estimated to cost at least $35,000, but a fundraising goal of $100,000 has been set in order to ensure other immediate rehabilitation costs can be covered. Before it can reopen to the public, additional needs include digital upgrades to the projection system and the development of a sustainable business plan. Through strong leadership and the tremendous dedication of board members, Waldo Theatre, Inc. has accomplished a great deal but needs continued community and financial support in order to ensure the reactivation and preservation of this cornerstone of culture and entertainment for Midcoast Maine.

Mary E. Taylor Building, c. 1925

The Story
The 28,200 square foot middle school on Knowlton Street was designed in 1925 by the well-respected Augusta architecture firm of Bunker and Savage and falls under the jurisdiction of the Camden-Rockport School Administrative District 28. It was renamed after Mary E. Taylor in 1957, who served as the school’s principal from 1916-1953. Many local residents attended school in this original Mary E. Taylor (MET) building, which holds significant importance with the community. The building is in relatively good condition with only minor repairs needed. The major needs for the building include ADA access improvements and updates to codes. Since 1957, the MET building has continually expanded and now contains 122,000 square feet. The original building has been nominated for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Threat
In 2015, Camden and Rockport voted down a $28 million bond to both construct a new middle school and spend $3 million to rehabilitate the MET building. In June 2017 voters again went to the polls, but the bond had been lowered to $25.2 million and included specific language regarding the demolition of the existing historic school. Public concern about the demolition was eased by assurances from Maria Libby, Superintendent, that despite what the bond stated, rehabilitation of the MET building was still on the table. This time, the bond passed.
The current design plans for the new school do not include rehabilitation of the MET building; in its place plans call for an activity field. While the school board has stated they are willing to consider viable reuse proposals for the building, they have stipulated that if a private developer rehabilitates the building, they are interested in half of the existing space being used for their offices. Additionally, legal counsel has advised the School Administrative District that they cannot commit to a lease longer than 4 years as a tenant, and 10 years if they act as a landlord. The conditions they have set are such that private development will be extremely cost-prohibitive.                                                                                                                                  
A preliminary rehabilitation estimate for the building is $3.4 million for the stand-alone use as the School Administrative District offices. The SAD has been talking about the need for new administrative office space for more than a decade, but the school board has now voiced concern regarding the types of people who may be visiting the offices and whether or not this would be a security issue on an active school campus. While controlling access to school property is of paramount importance, throughout Maine there are scores of existing private housing units and other buildings that abut schools and practice fields. The configuration of the MET building on the campus allows for reuse of the building with minimal disruption to the school.

The Solution
The Mary E. Taylor School is in good physical condition and demolition costs are expected to run more than $200,000. In addition, the social, environmental and economic opportunity costs of reusing rubble from the building for on-site fill contradict the goal of working together to ensure this historic landmark remains both a functional tribute to quality education, and the encouragement of community sustainability and lasting civic values. This well-built building has had an excellent history of low maintenance costs. Demolition provides a disservice to the concept of re-use and does not set a positive example concerning the SADs vision to ensure sure students are, “working cooperatively and collaboratively.”
In Maine, 14 historic schools have been adapted into housing units since 2008 utilizing the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. In addition, there are dozens of school reuse examples from other states, including:
- Sonora, CA: historic school building is now the school administrative offices, local arts council and a local radio station
- Knoxville, TN: senior housing
- Woodstock, GA: satellite technical college campus and technology hub for business startups and students in the former gymnasium
- Thomasville, GA: center for the arts
- Kansas City, MO: multi-use recreation center; assisted living center; adult day care center; Boys & Girls Club
The School Board should heed the calls of the community to pro-actively evaluate the reuse potential of the building, including a broad range of adaptive use solutions. Innumerable communities have buildings and houses that border on school campuses, and the majority have not erected barriers to community members visiting sports practices or other extra-curricular activities. While located on the edge of an active campus, there are numerous options for reuse for the Mary E. Taylor School that will not interfere with or pose safety issues to school campus users. The community has too much to lose historically, socially and economically if this well-built neighborhood anchor is allowed to be demolished.

Historic Residential Neighborhoods

The Story

As the real estate economy continues to improve, preserving historic houses has become an increasingly critical issue. Individual houses and those in historic neighborhoods are threatened by the absence of local protection from demolition or major loss of their historic character.

Foreside Road in Cumberland and Falmouth, Route 88, has been cited by preservations from across the country as being among the most architecturally diverse roads in the country. Recently, an important ca.1790 sea captain’s house at 154 Foreside Road in Cumberland was demolished without any review, input from neighbors or local residents or consultation with preservation organizations. Set back just meters from what was the Old State Road, the house was an important link to development along this significant corridor less than a decade after the end of the American Revolution. The house was demolished because ironically the Town of Cumberland, in seeking to encourage denser neighborhood development, had recently decreased minimum lot size from two acres to one acre. This house sat on a two-acre lot and when a builder decided to build a second house the historic house was razed to make it easier to have two houses.

In Rockland, the recent demolition of a house associated with two internationally famous actresses from the early Broadway and Silver Screen era, Maxine and Gertrude Elliot, has sparked local concern over the ease with which an owner in Rockland could bring down a significant landmark. Community discussion on how to protect important community heritage has now begun. Unfortunately, it is often the case that a significant building has to be lost to demolition prior to action. However, increasingly communities are becoming proactive.

The Threat

Cumberland has no local historic ordinance to protect historic houses, nor do the adjoining towns of Yarmouth, Falmouth, North Yarmouth, Gray or Windham. As a result, rehabilitation for resale of the old Stagecoach Annex on a historic stretch of Walnut Hill Road in North Yarmouth removed much of the original historic features of the house. In fact only about 25 towns and cities in Maine do have some protection; this compares to 84 in New Hampshire. But, towns exploring or recently upgrading local protection include Biddeford, Bridgton, Damariscotta, Durham, Gorham, Rockland and Searsport.

Coinciding with the lack of protections in place for historic homes, housing and homebuilding in the United States is striving for cost efficiency above all other factors. Character and longevity have in some instances given way to convenience and immediate affordability. Misinformation on the energy efficiency of historic homes and the ability to cost-effectively insulate has compounded these issues. That said, there are a number of solutions, some immediately available and some further down the line, which may alleviate such stresses.

The Solution

Modernization of historic homes to current code and efficiency standards while retaining historic features is easily and frequently accomplished. Rehabilitations which do not retain historic features are generally more expensive and in most cases, far less durable.

A key step in preserving historic houses and neighborhoods is developing greater public awareness. Surveying and assembling a list of historic buildings is a community building activity that fosters civic pride, as the history of the community comes alive through its structures.

Passing an ordinance to protect these important buildings and guide their rehabilitation is a second step. Studies have shown that protected historic districts appreciate faster than adjoining areas, and faster than similar areas in adjoining towns. This is because such areas improve and maintain their appearance and accentuate historic features, and this character is what attracts residents in the first place, as well as visitors.

A highly effective statewide solution to ensure the preservation of historic houses would be the introduction of a state residential historic tax credit. This credit, currently offered to owner-occupied residents in twenty-three states, is available for homes individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, those located in National Register-listed districts or locally designated neighborhood or downtown districts. In Maine, the residential credit could mirror the highly effective historic rehabilitation tax credit for income-producing buildings only, which has sparked more than $400 million in project investment since 2008. A15-25% credit on the eligible rehabilitation expenditures or a 35-45% credit if the property is vacant and blighted, is spread over a five-year period, and if the home is sold or is no longer the owner's primary residence, the remaining portion of the credit is forfeited. If enacted, this measure would encourage high-quality rehabilitation work and grow the property tax base while preserve Maine’s unique heritage.

Historic Houses & Land Trusts

The Story
There are 1,700 conservation land trusts in the United States, 100 here in Maine alone. They not only offer flexibility to landowners, but provide protection in perpetuity for sensitive natural areas, farmland and water sources. Economic and health benefits abound, providing community access to outdoor recreation and enhancing the overall quality of life, which in turn increases property values and attracts businesses. There are myriad ways in which land conservation groups operate and use strategies to provide protection and they can include purchase of a conservation easement to limit development or outright purchase to protect land. Nonprofit land trusts rely on grants, private donations and public land acquisition programs to cover costs.

The Threat
Conservation and preservation often have overlapping goals that can work together. While conservationists generally work for the protection of natural resources, preservationists work to protect buildings, objects and landscapes. But this difference in focus can result in the preservation of historic structures on conservation land being incidental. There are several recent instances of property being acquired by land trusts without provisions that allow for the preservation of historic structures on site or their separate purchase by an owner sympathetic to both interests. The result is the loss of viable historic structures that could contribute economically to the community, and the loss of historic and cultural resources integral to telling the story of the landscape.

The Solution
Historic preservation and land conservation are not mutually exclusive, and collaboration provides context – buildings and landscapes are more meaningful when preserved together. Additionally, our historic buildings are important economic assets and are central to providing crucial affordable rural housing units. Maine Preservation has had the opportunity to successfully partner with the Georges River Land Trust to sell for rehabilitation a vacant historic house and 5 acres in South Thomaston which is surrounded by their 200-acre conservation acquisition, while securing an option on an additional 28-acre parcel across the road that they were later able to acquire. If selling the property for private use is not viable, other states have developed models that involve both farmers and rehabilitators in residence. Developing strong relationships between the preservation and conservation communities will provide the benefit of expansive expertise that will allow for a strong economic future for both Maine’s natural and built heritage.

Frank J. Wood Bridge, c. 1932

Update: 9/13/19

Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge, the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States, and the Historic Bridge Foundation file suit against Maine Department of Transportation to stop planned destruction of the Frank Wood Bridge.

The Story

Opened in 1932 as part the Workers Protection Administration’s initiative to ‘upgrade’ America’s transportation infrastructure, the Frank J. Wood Bridge has become an iconic piece of Southern Maine’s post-industrial landscape. The 805-foot steel-truss bridge spans the Androscoggin River which divides Topsham and Brunswick and serves approximately 19,000 vehicles per day, as well as pedestrian traffic along its western side, and is bookended at either side of the river by rehabilitated historic mill complexes which house a variety of local businesses and services.

The Threat

Interest in the bridge has grown significantly within the past several years owing to the introductions of proposals by Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), to replace the historic structure with a new bridge, resulting in an outcry among local and regional champions for its preservation. In May 2016, MDOT publicly announced plans to demolish the Frank J. Wood Bridge and build a new concrete bridge upstream, over the falls of the Androscoggin River. This determination was made prior to the commencement of any of the legally required historic and environmental reviews intended to determine whether an historic structure should be preserved.

Since 1999, Maine has lost 47 historic Warren Through Truss bridges, 23 of them listed or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. With so many bridges in Maine and a shortage of funds to repair and replace them, the question is whether MDOT is getting a complete lifetime from our existing bridges. While both Maine and New Hampshire DOTs appear eager to replace bridges, Vermont has found that rehabilitation is both financially feasible and advisable. Vermont assigns a longer lifetime to its existing bridges and a shorter lifetime to new bridges than Maine, thus demonstrating the cost savings available from a conservative approach to bridge replacement.

The Solution

At present, whether or not the bridge is replaced the deck needs critical maintenance costing $800,000. More substantial rehabilitation will be required within the next five years to address other structural issues, namely the deterioration of essential truss bars and floor beams. Four options have been put forward to address these issues, including both replacement and repair options ranging from $13 million to $17 million.

The Frank J .Wood Bridge is not functionally obsolete as it was originally constructed to carry both cars and coal trains, making it able to handle almost twice as much weight as currently required. It is also wide enough to have two 10’ travel lanes, two 5’ bike lanes and a 6’ sidewalk; the proposed new bridge is only 2’ wider. The relative costs of rehab vs. new construction are very close. The question is has MDOT used the correct estimate of lifetimes for each option. Given the level of public interest and concern, the significant loss of historic bridges in Maine and a clear and financially responsible reuse option for this historic bridge it is essential that MDOT accurately and fairly consider rehabilitation of this local landmark.

Engineer's House, c. 1892 (LOST)

The Engineer's House was built as part of the Bangor Water Works, designed in 1892 by the prominent architect Wilfred E. Mansur. After years of public service, this impressive complex stood vacant for 30 years until a subsidiary of Shaw House, Inc. determined in 2002 that the main building in the complex could be rehabilitated into 35 low income apartments. In acquiring the complex Shaw House agreed that it would later rehabilitate the engineer's house, which at the time it moved on to a new foundation and installed a new roof.

Following the heroic rehabilitation of the Bangor Water Works, Maine Preservation presented an Honor Award in 2008 to Shaw House for the apartment complex. Shaw House had at that point just come under new management.

The Engineer's House had sat vacant since 2008, though well protected by the recent roof and foundation. When Shaw House determined that it could not rehabilitate the Engineer’s House, in 2015 it asked for permission from the Bangor Historic Preservation Commission to demolish it. The Commission asked instead for Shaw House to offer the house and land for sale for $1, and Shaw advertised the property for sale in print. An architecture and engineering firm experienced in historic preservation determined that the house was sound and, in concert with an experienced and qualified developer of historic buildings, sought to acquire the building. An agreement was reached with both Shaw House and the City of Bangor, providing a clear path to rehabilitation.

But, instead of abiding by this agreement, negotiating or facilitating the sale of the property, Shaw House began to throw up roadblocks. First, Shaw House stated it had suddenly discovered it did not have the right to sell the building, despite presenting no such evidence. Then Shaw House stated it would only agree to a short-term lease and that the purchasers would not only have to show financing but also have approvals for historic tax credits. Despite these roadblocks, the purchasers remained determined and secured financing. At the last minute, Shaw suddenly required a $15,000 a year lease payment – this on the land and parking that they had supposedly agreed to provide for sale for $1. It is hard to look at these facts and not conclude that Shaw House was not negotiating in good faith.

As soon as the Purchasers balked at the new lease payment, Shaw went to the Building Inspector and hastily received permission to demolish the building, likely the last existing shingle-style building by Mansur, which it did immediately – on a Sunday.

This leads to a lot of questions:

· Did Shaw House make every effort to live up to the commitment it made to rehabilitate or allow others to rehabilitate the building?

· How did Shaw House pay for the most experienced historic tax credit lawyer in Maine to both testify in favor of its application before the Historic Commission and then negotiate and place conditions on the sale that couldn't be met under the law and were simply unachievable?

· The last roadblock Shaw House threw up that broke the deal was the requirement for a $15,000 a year lease on the house. What economic return will Shaw House get from spending additional money to demolish the house for a now vacant lot?

· How will Bangor make up for the loss in construction jobs and ongoing property tax payments that this development would have provided to the city?

· What other plans does Shaw house now have for its underused parking lot?

We are shocked and disappointed by the lack of good faith shown by Shaw House, ignoring the commitment they made to preservation and economic development in the City of Bangor.

Downtown Wiscasset

The Story

Everyone in Maine, including Maine Preservation, recognizes the need to seriously address the traffic backup every summer in Wiscasset. For anyone passing over the Davey Bridge to Edgecomb, congestion and delays are common during the summer months and sometimes beyond. The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) has proposed various options for traffic improvements over the past several decades. In March 2016 the most recent plan for a bypass of downtown was shelved and three new design concepts were introduced. DOT's preferred choice, Option 2, adds two sets of traffic lights and eliminates all on-street storefront parking along Route 1 throughout downtown between Middle and Water Streets. Historic sidewalks would be eliminated and replaced with new widened walkways, diagonal storefront parking would disappear and visitors and shoppers would be directed to a block away on Water Street, where MDOT proposes to turn an occupied property into a parking lot.

The Threat

While the initial plan was approved, both the citizens and the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen, residents voted down Option 2 and the selectmen has also disapproved of the plan, but MDOT has stated they plan to “stay the course” regardless. A lawsuit has been filed against MDOT by local business owners citing reversal of initial promises and subsequent backtracking on MDOT's obligation to consider the interests of the town. Among the most concerning items to note:

- In Public meetings and communications in spring 2016 MDOT stated the project would require no taking of private property and that 80% of anticipated project costs would be covered with federal dollars. Now MDOT states they will not be using federal funds, avoiding federally mandated environmental and historic review processes. Plus, additional funds have been spent condemning and acquiring a building. Consequently, MDOT will increase costs to residents and are unnecessarily using all Maine taxpayer dollars. 

- While MDOT said 20 additional parking spaces would be created along Creamery Wharf, now the historic Hagget’s garage building, housing a thriving office, will be demolished to make way for parking.

- The maintenance of many design elements of the project, such as the additional traffic lights, expanded sidewalks and parking lots, will likely be costs assumed by the town in the future, raising the question of whether or not local tax increases will be necessary.

The proposal to remove all parking along Route 1 on Main Street will have a devastating impact on the viability of businesses in this vibrant commercial district. Maine DOT appears to be alone in believing that parking causes the traffic problem in Wiscasset. Yet, numerous studies in communities across the nation have proven that parking not located directly within downtown areas has a major negative impact on businesses. In fact, MDOT’s own architectural survey report of downtown Wiscasset maintains that on-street parking is an integral part of the Village’s historic setting. In communities the size of Wiscasset, each downtown parking space is worth approximately $25,000 a year in local sales dollars. Locating these spaces off Main Street is not equal to providing shoppers with visible and accessible parking adjacent to businesses.

The current option proposes the demolition of the former Coastal Enterprises, Inc. headquarters on Water Street, Hagget’s garage. This 1918 building now houses the Midcoast Conservancy with 9 employees. The Conservancy had made entered into an option to purchase the building from CEI, but Maine DOT made the “urgent” decision to exercise eminent domain, taking the building and directing the Conservancy to relocate. They would have to move outside Wiscasset, as comparable space is not available. Not only does the building house its headquarters, it is providing the community with an art gallery, meeting space and acts as the hub for the Conservancy’s program that provides skiing equipment for children. The loss of this anchor and the district’s loss of employees and building users who frequently shop and eat downtown for a small parking lot are short-sighted and will have a negative and long lasting economic impact. 

The Solution

Traffic through Wiscasset, especially in July and August, is an issue that has been perplexing Midcoast Maine for years. However, prior to spending $5 million of Maine taxpayer money on an unproven “solution” DOT should test their plans. The installation of temporary traffic lights and separately testing temporarily blocking off of parking spaces is an easy and affordable step in discerning the true viability and economic impact of this plan. In 1997 an MDOT study projecting traffic through 2015 found that there would be zero percent reduction in delays from changes made to downtown. Now, MDOT is claiming its current project will reduce traffic delays by over 50%. It is irresponsible and unwise to spend so much time and Maine taxpayer’s valuable money on a project with no assured positive outcome, especially if it is against the will of the community and comes at the cost of locally owned businesses and the vibrancy of one of the state’s oldest and most revered historic communities.

Coastal & Waterfront Communities

The Story

Maine’s jagged coastline, with sandy beaches on the south and rocky shores Midcoast and Downeast, is 3,478 miles long (longer than California). With all 3,166 offshore islands included, the state has over 5,000 miles of coast. Maine’s maritime industrial heritage established many of the state’s communities along the coast and tidal inlets; other major towns and cities in the state were established along rivers.

Ice caps and glaciers, which contain enough ice to raise sea levels more than 200 feet if fully melted, are substantially shrinking each year. The latest estimate by scientists is a sea level rise of at least 10 feet in the next 50 years in addition to predictions of more and more extreme storms. Portland Society of Architecture estimates that a 4-foot sea level rise would do $111 million in damage to Portland alone.

The Threat

Historic downtowns and neighborhoods throughout Maine, like those across the United States and the world, are already facing erosion and flooding from rising seas with higher surges, and stronger storms with greater precipitation. Such increasingly intense and frequent storms are causing irreversible damage to our coastal heritage. This new normal is pushing Maine and historic preservation into an era where current methods of revitalization and celebration of place are being met with the very real future of loss.

In southern Maine in the last century more than 30 buildings have been destroyed by beach erosion alone:

- A minimum of 20 houses have been lost at Camp Ellis in Saco; 33 lots are now in the ocean

- In the last 20 years alone, 3 houses in Saco were completely  destroyed by erosion

- At least 10 buildings, including a hotel, were lost at Popham Beach in Phippsburg

- A hotel at Higgins Beach in Scarborough was destroyed by erosion.

But now the threat is increasing, including to the rocky coast as well.

Maine’s coastal counties account for 77% of the state’s total employment, and if we do not initiate strong, broad-based planning in anticipation of the continued rise in sea levels we are in danger of losing more than historic structures. With tourism the largest industry in Maine, without planning and strong action, we make ourselves economically as well as physically vulnerable.

The Solution

Historic preservation, in conjunction with other fields must collectively look forward and take measures to fortify the state to meet these challenges with innovative and collaborative action steps.

A national conversation has begun, in the field of historic preservation with Newport, RI Restoration Foundation and the cities of Annapolis, MD and Alexandria, VA among others leading the way. Discussions are focusing on what we can do, collectively, to protect our historic downtowns and neighborhoods from the inevitable rise of sea levels in order to develop smart local and state policies to protect entire communities. The future of our heritage, and the legacy we leave for generations of Mainers depends upon quick and progressive action.

The Brining Shed, c. 1907 (LOST)

The Story
The Brining Shed, also called the pickling shed, was constructed in 1907 as part of the McCurdy Smokehouse complex. This was the last operating smoked herring processing facility in the eastern United States when it closed in 1990, and is the only complex still intact. The furthest building from shore, fishing vessels would pull up to the brining shed and have their herring catch pumped out on the east side of the building. After time spent pickling in wooden brine tanks fish were strung them by their gills on long sticks which were placed on ‘horses’ and allowed to harden. All of the equipment associated with this process remains in the building, which as part of the McCurdy Smokehouse complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Lubec Landmarks has restored and maintains the other buildings in the complex which are open to the public guided tours and talks every summer as an integral part of the town's historic waterfront The Brining Shed is the last building in the complex that Landmarks is seeking to save.

The Threat
Severe damage to the building occurred during the blizzard of March 2017 and a June windstorm, requiring immediate repair and stabilization. Additionally, years of wind, tidal changes and winter storms in the channel between Lubec and Campobello Island have taken their toll on the pilings. It is essential that stabilization begin before next winter.

The Solution
Lubec Landmarks is currently seeking emergency funds to repair and stabilize the brining shed, which is estimated to cost a minimum of $125,000. This funding will repair the collapsed wall as well as stabilize pier supports the shed rests on. More extensive restoration procedures will need to be implemented soon, including constructing new piers on which to rest the shed, reconnecting it to the complex. Full restoration of the building will allow it to become an integral part of the McCurdy's Smokehouse Museum.

Bowery Beach School House c. 1865

The Story

In 1865, Elliot Wescott was paid $600 to construct the Baxter School, a simple, one and a half story Greek Revival-style building. Now known as the Bowery Beach School, the building retains its clapboard exterior with simple corner boards and six over six windows. In 1931 the town of Cape Elizabeth sold the property to the Ladies Union and renamed the schoolhouse Crescent Lodge. In 1983, The Ladies Union deeded the property to the Cape Elizabeth Lions Club. The building sees use throughout the year, providing a meeting place for the Cape Elizabeth Lions, local Boy Scouts, support groups and is also rented out to private parties for single-day functions.

The Threat

The Cape Elizabeth Lions Club recognizes that in the near future, shortage of funds to continue maintenance puts its continued ownership of the Bowery Beach School building in peril. As a 501(c)(4) fraternal organization, the Lions Club is required to dedicate 100% of its fundraising efforts to 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities, which unfortunately provides very limited opportunities and resources to raise funds for building repair and maintenance. A recent professional building inspection revealed that while the foundation appears solid, there are significant levels of wood rot and rodent damage that must be dealt with immediately.

The Solution

Fraternal organizations across the country are attempting to deal with the care and maintenance of their historic buildings in the face of declining membership, and the Lions Club in Cape Elizabeth is no different. Many organizations are forced to sell, but the loss of this civic space would be demoralizing to the community. The formation of a friends group and broad community support will allow the Cape Elizabeth Lions to fund some if not much of the repair, maintenance and annual carrying costs of the building, ensuring the Bowery Beach School House remains a center of community life.

A.B. Seavey House, c. 1890

The Story

The A.B. Seavey House was built in 1890 and designed by J.M. Littlefield. Seavey was a successful local businessman dealing in musical instruments. The house was one of the finest examples of the Queen Anne architectural style in the city of Saco. It was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. A complete set of the architect's original drawings and specifications have survived. The NHRP listing states, the home is, “elaborate without being pretentious.”

The Threat

A fire in 2012 burned much of the roof and the third floor. The first and second floors sustained smoke and water damage. The City of Saco acquired the property because of three years of overdue taxes and would like to see the building rehabilitated for housing in order to strengthen this historic downtown neighborhood.

The Solution

While developers have expressed interest in the project, there is still much work to be done to attract potential investors. Despite damage from the 2012 fire, most of the decorative detailing remains intact throughout the property. If used as a rental property that contributes to the National Register district, work would be eligible for state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits for apartment use. The City has expressed interest in being flexible with zoning requirements. In order for this building to once again contribute to Saco’s future it must be immediately secured and the roof repaired to ensure the window of economic opportunity is not lost to rehabilitate this important structure.