Historical concerns delay demo of Main Street tenement

Construction/demolition on Main Street in Auburn
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

A crew from St. Laurent & Son Inc. work on the Main Street sidewalk in Auburn on Tuesday. Part of the master improvement plan for the area includes taking down several buildings, including the gray one in the background.

AUBURN — The demolition of one of three Main Street tenements is on hold while the city investigates the building's history.

The building, at 337 Main St., is one of six the city plans to demolish this fall. A coordinator from the Maine State Historical Commission toured the property and determined that it could have historic significance.

"We have to hire a consultant to develop the history of the building and create a narrative and a site plan and sketch of each floor," said Reine Mynahan, Auburn's Community Development director.

"It's a concern because it is in such poor shape and it would take a huge influx of resources to fix it up and just make it livable," Mynahan said. "The back porches are ready to fall right into the Little Androscoggin and it hasn't even been lived in since 2003."

The city also plans to demolish two neighboring buildings, a four-story tenement at 369 Main St. and the two-story building across the street at 364 Main St. Buildings at 285 Court St., 192 Winter St. and 18 Western Promenade are also due for demolition.

St. Laurent and Son Demolition had the lowest bid on the projects, agreeing to demolish all six buildings for $284,937.

Crews are removing the roof at 285 Court St. and plan to begin knocking the rest of that building down later this month. The city also plans to demolish a vacant, single-family home at 18 Western Promenade and an old, five-bay garage at 192 Winter St.

The city purchased the Court Street building and 364 and 369 Main St. buildings using federal Neighborhood Stabilization grants. The city took over ownership of the Western Promenade and Winter Street properties when those owners failed to pay their property taxes.

Mynahan said the city bought the 337 Main St. property with Community Development Block Grants, fully intending to tear it down.

"But the funding requires us to do a complete environmental review and part of that is looking at the history," Mynahan said.

The city has to find out what the historic significance is and document it.

"I don't even know what it was that got them interested," Mynahan said. She thinks the building was housing for mill employees at one time.

"But more than that, I think they felt it had architectural significance, but I don't know exactly what it was," she said.

According to city assessing records, the 3½-story brick and clapboard building with a gable roof was constructed in 1904. It's listed as a four-family home, with four bathrooms and 13 bedrooms.

The city has tried to get the property redeveloped but hasn't found any interested developers.

"We've talked to all of the affordable housing agencies about redeveloping that property and they've all said no, partly because of the housing market," Mynahan said. "

staylor@sunjournal.com


View Auburn fall 2010 projects in a larger map

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Comments

 's picture

Slum

Everything could qualify as historical. That doesn't mean it's interesting to anyone or worth holding on to. The buildings referred to in the article are not only eyesores but are simply areas that drugs and crime are drawn to. Historical garbage is still just garbage. The space could be used for things that are useful to the area and may become attractive as a potential sale for someone looking to develop if it was an empty lot rather than something that needs an insane amount of money to refurbish or tear down. The Maine State Historical Commission needs to step aside unless they personally are going to refurbish the properties within the next 3 months (so it doesn't sit for yet another 7 years) without expecting us to contribute. Let's get realistic about the health of our community.

 's picture

Historic significance? A hobo

Historic significance? A hobo named Pierre Dibodeaux slept in the hallway on April 1st 1892.

 's picture

Great, even when Auburn tries

Great, even when Auburn tries to get rid of it's many eyesores, someone has to step in and screw it up. What should we do... dump tons of tax dollars into it and make it a livable slum again? Knock it down, already!

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