Awards given for Lewiston, Paris buildings

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LEWISTON – Statewide historic preservation awards went to the Marsden Hartley Cultural Center at the Lewiston Public Library and to the Oxford County Courthouse in Paris on Friday afternoon.

They were among 10 important restoration projects throughout Maine that were recognized by Maine Preservation, a nonprofit organization.

The 2006 Maine Preservation Awards spotlighted millions of dollars worth of work on historically significant structures. The projects ranged from church towers and windows to a house in Union built in 1797 by a sixth-generation descendant of John and Priscilla Alden, the famed couple of Mayflower and Plymouth Colony history.

The award presentations took place in the Lewiston Public Library’s recently restored Callahan Hall, once known as the hall of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Jan Phillips, chairwoman of the library’s board of trustees, accepted the award. It recognizes the $3.5 million restoration of the deteriorating Pillsbury Building, which allowed expansion of the Lewiston Public Library from its original Park Street building back to Lisbon Street.

Philip Isaacson, who served as chairman of the library’s building committee, led a tour of the library for attendees at the Maine Preservation awards.

Isaacson, a noted authority on architecture, said many other significant and once-beautiful buildings in the Twin Cities deserve protection before they fall to demolition. He singled out the Dominican Block at Lincoln and Chestnut Streets as a seriously deteriorating structure with important history and architecture that is worthy of preservation.

Renovation of the Oxford County Courthouse’s jail also received recognition from Maine Preservation. The jail space, built in 1895, had been unused since 1978. It has been turned into office space.

David Duguay of Byron, an Oxford County commissioner, accepted the award.

Other Maine Preservation honors went to churches in Brunswick and Yarmouth.

The First Parish Church in Brunswick, a familiar sight at the Bowdoin College end of Maine Street, needed $3.3 million worth of restoration and tower repair. The building has significant historic ties to Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and to Civil War hero and former Maine Gov. Joshua Chamberlain.

As he accepted his plaque, the Rev. Larry Kalajainen, pastor of the church, said, “It all started as just a project to paint the outside of the church.”

An award was also given for major restoration done to stenciled glass windows at the 276-year-old First Parish Congregational Church in Yarmouth.

Mary Estelle Blake, a member of the church for many years, was the project benefactor. She said, “I was thinking about giving the money to the church when I die. Then I thought, No, I’ll do it now so I can see it and enjoy it.'”

Her comment brought loud and long applause.

The muse cultural du Mont-Carmel in the Aroostook County village of Lille was honored for work on the former Catholic church there. The 1909 building, which is a prime example of Acadian architecture, features restoration to its two towers and the carved angels that top the towers.

Lisa Foley was recognized for her rehabilitation and adaptive use as a condominium of a carriage house and adjacent building at 155-157 Pine St., Portland. She told how she purchased the property and acted as her own general contractor on the first-time project she undertook.

Other recipients of Maine Preservation awards were Portland’s Victoria Mansion for tower and brownstone renovation; rehabilitation and renovation of the Bar Harbor Club, Bar Harbor; ornamental plaster restoration at Conroy-Tully Funeral Home, Portland; and preservation/stewardship and restoration of the 1797 Ebenezer Alden House in Union.

Nancy Barba, Portland architect, received the Preservation Champion Award and Marc Bagala, owner of Bagala Window Works, received the Preservation Craftsmanship and Trades Award.

In her closing remarks, Maine Preservation’s Executive Director Roxanne Eflin summarized preservation work now under way on 19 historic buildings at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester. She said it is Maine Preservation’s biggest project in its 35 years. The project will cost $3.6 million, of which about $2.7 million has been raised.

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