PORTLAND — From granite blocks in the city’s West End, to the church towering over Parkside, to a one-room school house in Cumberland, this year’s “Places in Peril” list covers history small and large.
Released Monday ahead of nonprofit Greater Portland Landmarks’ annual meeting, the list is both a warning and a celebration, GPL Executive Director Hilary Bassett said at a press conference Monday.
“Our goal is to broaden awareness of historic buildings and streetscapes and to advocate for their preservation, protection and adaptive reuse,” she said.
Included on this year’s list are the city’s equestrian artifacts, the hitching posts carriage blocks, and other items that are often overlooked reminders of days when horses provided city transportation.
The items can be upright metal posts or blocks among the bricks on sidewalks. Included as artifacts are the fountain and posts on Federal Street behind the Central Fire Station.
“People just don’t know what they are,” Bassett said. “Sometimes they are in the way.”
The four buildings listed are more substantial. The Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Parish Church at 65 Mellen St. was listed, even as the parish strives to raise $200,000 for renovations to the 120-year-old church.
According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland website, almost $180,000 has been raised so far.
The Italian Renaissance Revival-style church has no interior support columns at its center. It was listed by GPL because of threats from water damage caused by a deteriorating copper roof, and repairs needed to the cross and sacred heart atop two bell towers.
Bassett noted the congregation is working to place the church on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the city’s oldest homes, the Deacon John Bailey House at 1235 Congress St. may also be one of it’s least-known 18th century relics, Bassett said.
“The house’s location on a busy street makes it largely unknown to the general public,” she said. The home, which was completed in the 1750s, according to GPL, is one of few remaining pre-Revolutionary War structures in the city.
Bassett said the home is threatened because of deferred maintenance and a tree that could cause structural damage. The owner is “highly knowledgeable and appreciative of its history,” according to the GPL, and the home’s inclusion on the National Register could provide tax credits to help fund its restoration.
The city’s commercial history is also noted by the inclusion of what is now the Hub Furniture store at 291 Fore St. Before it was a showroom, the building was home to the Curtis & Son Gum Factory, where spruce chewing gum provided a new revenue source for the state’s lumber industry.
Built in 1866 and expanded to five floors from three in 1900, the building is distinctive for its rounded front. It is threatened by deteriorating windows and masonry, according to GPL.
Bassett noted the building does not have any preservation protection through zoning, but also has an owner aware of its significance and could be considered for the National Register.
GPL also went outside Portland city limits to include the Greek Revival former Merrill school house at 42 Winn Road in Cumberland.
The one-room school, dating to 1846, is unused and has been damaged by vandals and a lack of maintenance to the building and grounds, according to GPL.
The building is already on the National Register and protected by a preservation easement, so Bassett said she is optimistic it can be reused, perhaps as studios for artists or a community gathering space.
While this year’s list is slightly smaller than two prior ones (each had seven listings), Bassett said an advisory committee considered 17 nominations before making the selections.
The committee included non-GPL members, she said, and the research on nominations was done graduate student summer interns.
Now the home of Hub Furniture, this building at 291 Fore St. in Portland was once home to a gum factory. It is considered “in peril” by Greater Portland Landmarks.
A carriage block on Spring Street in Portland. “People just don’t know what they are,” Greater Portland Landmarks Executive Director Hilary Bassett said Monday, Sept. 21.
The former schoolhouse at 42 Winn Road in Cumberland is considered ‘in peril’ by Greater Portland Landmarks.