The Rumford Commercial Historic District comprises 38 downtown buildings. To see the full list, go to sunjournal.com.

RUMFORD — The Rumford Commercial Historic District has been entered in the National Register of Historic Places, according to Kirk F. Mohney, director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

This designation indicates that the property has been documented, evaluated and considered worthy of preservation and protection as part of the nation’s cultural heritage.

“It was truly a group effort that brought success in EnvisionRumford’s quest to have the Rumford Commercial Historic District listed on the Registry of Deeds,” Jennifer Kreckel of EnvisionRumford said.

“This will enable individuals who want to renovate their buildings in compliance with historic guidelines to be eligible for a tax credit with both the federal and state tax returns,” she said.

While the island has fallen on hard times, Kreckel said, things are happening to change this. Getting the Historic District listing is one part of the plan to encourage investment in the downtown. Another tool is having the street and sidewalk project go forward.

Also helpful would be to have the island be a tax-increment finance district, she said.

“The island has been losing businesses, but we can work together to change our destiny,” Kreckel said. “Going through the sidewalk and street project will be very tough on us for a while, but without this project going forward, the downtown will continue to fail and the 100-year-old sewer and water pipes will continue to require the street and sidewalks to be dug up if we don’t replace it.” 

Mia Purcell, economic development manager for Community Concepts, said, “This National Register listing represents more than two years of work and investment by EnvisionRumford and the Town of Rumford. In addition to the tax credits that property owners can take advantage of, being in the National Register communicates a sense of civic pride in the downtown. It is as much about the present and the future as it is about acknowledging and celebrating Rumford’s past.”

The Board of Selectmen supported the effort by granting up to $15,000 from economic development funds for a consultant to prepare and submit nomination materials in the effort to create a historic preservation district for downtown Rumford.

Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said the downtown historic district designation “opens up opportunities for us for renovations and improvements in the downtown area. Many folks are excited to be able to have that opportunity.”

Scott Hanson, architectural historian with Sutherland Conservation & Consulting, was hired by EnvisionRumford through the town to prepare the application for the downtown area, known as “the island,” to become a historic district.

“By establishing this district, you draw people’s attention to the fact that there’s something here that matters and something worth preserving,” Hanson said.

Kreckel noted that Hanson “did a very wonderful job on the application and working with us. We truly believe that his diligence facilitated the acceptance of our application.”

The Rumford Commercial Historic District is one of the few planned company towns in Maine.

The district is also significant because the most intact remaining section of the historically dense commercial downtown illustrates a common pattern of retail and commercial uses in first-floor spaces with office, fraternal, hotel or residential spaces above in the taller buildings.

The primary benefits of a commercial historic district include a 20 percent federal income tax credit for contributing properties rehabilitated for income-producing purposes, such as commercial, industrial or rental residential. Maine offers a 25 percent state credit for any rehabilitation that qualifies for the 20 percent federal credit.

[email protected]

The Rumford Commercial Historic District includes 29 contributing and 5 non-contributing (75, 95, 138 Congress St., 65 Hotel St. and 77 Canal St.) properties.

Four properties are already on the National Register of Historic Places: Rumford Town Hall, the Hotel Harris, the Greater Rumford Community Center and the Tri-County Mental Health building.

The buildings include commercial, governmental and institutional buildings constructed between 1892 and 1967:

* 60 River St., Opera House/Elks Lodge;

* 94 River St., Gonya Brothers;

* 151 Congress St., Central Fire Station;

* 145 Congress St., Municipal Building;

* 137 Congress St., Post Office;

* 119 Congress St., Cates Block;

* 109 Congress St., Clough & Pillsbury;

* 105 Congress St., Fortune Cookie;

* 103 Congress St., Fortier and Couture Bakery;

* 89 Congress St., McKenzie, Maxwell & Co.;

* 77 Congress St., Stanley’s Furniture;

* 69 Congress St., Sun Journal;

* 49 Congress St., Rumford Falls Power Co.;

* 52-60 Congress St., Mechanic’s Institute;

* 58-72 Congress St., Art Deco Block;

* 80, 82, 84, 98, 132, 142, 144 Congress St.;

* 92 Congress St., Carlisle Building;

* 94 Congress St., Hall Block;

* 102 Congress St., J.E. Stephens Block;

* 106 Congress St., Rumford Falls Trust Co.;

* 116 Congress St., Odd Fellows Block;

* 23 Hartford St., Strathglass Building/Hotel Harris;

* 134 Congress St., DiConzo’s Restaurant;

* 150 Congress St., Hanson Block;

* 91 Canal St., Knights of Phythias Hall;

* 85, 81 Canal St.

Architect designed buildings demonstrate the influence of Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Beaux Arts and Colonial Revival styles, with examples of the Art Deco style as well.

[email protected]

Workshop scheduled

A workshop on the benefits of the downtown historic district will be held for property owners, developers and Realtors from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, in the Rumford Falls Auditorium.

The workshop will be conducted by Chris Closs of Maine Preservation, John Egan of Coastal Enterprises and Michael Johnson of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

Egan will cover funding sources for historic preservation and the development process. His company buys tax credits, which he will also cover.

Closs will cover some of the standards that must be adhered to with historic preservation and how nonprofits can take advantage of historic designation.

Johnson will cover the application and regulatory process, especially for small projects. Each will include a case study or two as examples.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.