NORWAY — The majority of bricks that have either fallen or been removed from the back wall of the Opera House may be reusable, the contractor stabilizing the building said.
Paul Chabot, owner of Chabot's Construction in Green, said not only can some of the bricks be reused but so can some of the granite windowsills from the south wall of the Main Street landmark.
While the stabilization work, which was completed this week, allowed the unsafe wall to be taken apart and a temporary brick-colored vinyl siding to be put in its place, Chabot said he hopes many of the original blocks of face brick and granite window lentils — the sills on the bottom of the five large windows — can be reused in a future permanent restoration.
Chabot said that oftentimes the brick on one wall will have different colors than another wall as the sun begins to bleach to the stone over time.
“The colors can be unique to that wall,” he said of the difference between the north and south side wall bricks, for example. “But you can match it,” he said.
“We'll take some (face bricks) from another building,” he said of the face brick, which is generally a harder brick than the full brick used elsewhere in building construction.
“We salvage used brick from other mills we take down,” he said, noting the company has taken down three area mills, including the Cowan Mill on the Androscoggin River in Lewiston that burned in the summer of 2009.
Chabot said some of the original windows may be salvaged if the wood has not deteriorated. Those that can not will be rebuilt using the identical shape.
The 1894 Opera House in the heart of the downtown historic district was damaged in 2007 when part of the roof collapsed and an engineer deemed it unsafe. The town took it by eminent domain last year and hired Chabot to replace the upper portion of the cracked and bulging 100-foot back wall.
The three-story edifice topped by a clock tower has been vacant since the roof collapse. The first floor storefronts were vacated after the collapse and the upper floors have been vacant since the 1970s.