SAD 51 to restore face of Greely Institute in Cumberland

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CUMBERLAND — School Administrative District 51 is giving the former Greely Institute a facelift for its 150th birthday.

The 1868 building, whose cupola is part of the SAD 51 seal, is connected to Greely High School at 303 Main St. It is the “brand of the district” and should be revitalized, school officials said.

Water seepage over the decades has caused the wooden face of the structure to rot, prompting the school district to include an approximately $70,000 restoration project in its capital plan. The project is scheduled to be completed before the 2018-2019 school year begins.

SAD 51 has consulted with Carolyn Small of the Cumberland Historical Society and Hope Foster, who began teaching in town in 1949, to examine photos of the Institute dating back to 1872.

“It’s nice to be able to take a look at those photos along with the contractor and be able to ensure that we’re putting it back historically correct,” Scott Poulin, the district’s director of finance, human resources and operations said in an interview July 11.

Restoration of the top half of the building, including the cupola – which houses a functioning bell – took place about five years ago. Northeast Test Consultants of Westbrook will begin this project by removing all the lead paint from the wood, as well as some paint from the bricks. Privacy staging, fencing and containment areas will be erected this month.

Doten’s Construction of Freeport will then restore and repaint the building.

Information on the project can be found at msad51.org.

“It’s the brand, and it’s the face of Greely,” Poulin said. “It’s on our letterhead, it’s what everybody in the community sees when they drive down Main Street. And it’s one of the most beautiful focal points of the campus. So we need to preserve that.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

School Administrative District 51 this summer is restoring the front of Greely Institute, the oldest building on the Cumberland school campus.

This 1872 photo, taken four years after Greely Instititute was built, is among historic images guiding the project to ensure an authentic restoration.

Water seepage over the years has rotted the wooden face of the structure, prompting an approximately $70,000 restoration project.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.