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Bean home restoration on fast track in Freeport

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Bean home restoration on fast track in Freeport

FREEPORT — To speed up the process of restoring historical accuracy to the L.L Bean home, the Project Review Board has waived the usual four-month demolition delay period for the project.

After several additions and nearly half a dozen paint jobs over the past few decades, the 6 Holbrook St. home is being partially demolished and renovated to restore it to how it looked when Leon Leonwood Bean occupied the residence.

According to the project manager, Matthew Cyr of Consigli Construction, renovations will begin in early September and will be finished by Thanksgiving.

The board held a public hearing July 9 for a design review certificate and site plan amendment sought by the Freeport Historical Society. The house was built in 1887-88 by architect Francis Fassett, who designed many of the buildings in Freeport. L.L. Bean lived in the home from 1912 until his death in 1967.

Architect Mac Collins plans to demolish parts of the home to restore it to the way it was when Bean lived there with his family.

"By removing these additions, we're returning the house to its original condition," Collins said.

One addition being removed is part of the building connecting the house to the garage. According to Collins, it was built in the 1980s and "was built poorly with no foundation." This will be torn down and rebuilt properly to match the rest of the house. Also, it will be built taller so that the back of the house has more variation. The house and garage will also be better connected.

Two porches will also be demolished. One was added in the 1970s and the other is a sun porch from the 1930s on the southwest corner of the home. It was Bean's smoking room, but according to Collins it was "not very well built at the time." Collins said these will not be rebuilt.

"If you go back to the architectural significance of the design, the Francis Fassett design, removing that piece of (the house) is quite important from that standpoint," Collins said. "The smoking porch, we believe, detracts quite a bit from that design."

Because the smoking room was built by Bean using wood he gathered from different camps in Maine, Collins said the demolition of it will be thoroughly documented through photos and drawings.

Collins said he will be using photos from 1912 to 1917, which he called "the period of significance," to model the renovations. The home, which is currently painted white, had parts of it painted different colors when Bean lived there. Collins plans on having the home painted in this style, which consisted of varying shades of earth tone colors.

Collins also plans to do significant work on the windows of the home and the roof. The roof currently has asphalt shingles and the renovations will replace them with historically accurate cedar shingles.

Collins said the restoration of the Bean home will be a two-phase project, with exterior work planned now and interior renovations in the future. The home is utilized as storage space by the L.L. Bean retail store, and the exterior changes will have no impact on the building's use. Collins said he is unsure what it will be used for once the interior is renovated.

As for the L.L. Bean archive center adjacent to the Bean home, it is not being renovated, but will be painted to match the home. A new entrance will also be added between the archive center and the garage, which Collins said will be a  "very contemporary, very simple structure of wood and glass."

The Project Review Board approved the design and amendments at last week's meeting after going on a site walk of the property. According to Town Planner Donna Larson, the board waived the four-month waiting period that is usually required between a meeting and a demolition because "eliminating the additions brings back historical aspects of the home."

According to Collins, that is his intent and is the reasoning behind the project.

"The idea is that it will reflect the life and work of L.L. Bean in some fashion," he said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.