LEWISTON – Crews are working inside a historic four-story downtown building, but city officials won’t say what they’re doing.

New Hampshire-based developer David Clem has crews working on the Dominican Block building at the corner of Chestnut and Lincoln streets, removing some partitions inside the building and doing some masonry repairs to the outside.

The goal is to save the building, said Gil Arsenault, Lewiston’s director of planning and code enforcement. “(Clem) really deserves credit because he wants to do a full historical restoration. But he’s at the very beginning now.”

Arsenault referred questions about specific plans for the building to Clem, who could not be reached at his Hanover, N.H., office Wednesday.

The building was singled out for protection in November by the local Historic Preservation Review Board. Doug Hodgkin, a member of that board, said Clem unveiled plans for a first-floor restaurant and shops years ago.

“We were just overjoyed to hear someone talk about doing that,” Hodgkin said. “But this was several years ago.”

Members of the board met with the developer earlier this year. Hodgkin said Clem reiterated his plans to develop the building.

“He told us then that he was going to do some work to preserve it, to mothball it until he could come back and do it right,” Hodgkin said. He was unaware of any recent changes at the building.

The building opened in January 1883 as a Catholic parish school. The second and third floors housed the classrooms, and a large community room occupied the fourth floor. Retail stores were located on the first floor.

The Queen Anne-style building was designed by Lewiston architect George M. Coombs. It is listed on the national Register of Historic Places.

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