The Rumford Board of Selectmen continue the effort to find a buyer for the town-owned Clough & Pillsbury building, vacant for at least a decade at 109 Congress St. It was listed in 2018 by Maine Preservation as one of the state’s “Most Endangered Historic Places.” Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Last July, the town of Rumford accepted proposals for the sale and redevelopment of a historic downtown building at 109 Congress St. The minimum sale price was set at $1.

Known as the Clough & Pillsbury building, it was listed in 2018 by Maine Preservation as one of the state’s “Most Endangered Historic Places.”

Economic Development Director George O’Keefe said this process led to a proposal from an interested party. However, because the town was unable to gain an easement from Key Bank for parking access to the rear of the building as requested, the interested party pulled its proposal earlier this year.

Since that time, he said there’s been interest from numerous parties — two from out of town and one from in-town.

O’Keefe recommended to the board that the town list the property for sale through a realtor, at a cost of $12,770, which covers outstanding back taxes, some old liens and a $1,500 mortgage that has principal remaining.

After a lengthy discussion at the selectmen’s meeting Thursday, the board voted 3-0 to have O’Keefe work with the interested parties submit request for proposals by July 10, and for the board to take action at their meeting on July 16. If none of those are successful, Chairman Chris Brennick said the board can “throw it out on the real estate market.”

The three-story building, approximately 6,000 square feet, is wood-frame with a brick façade. The storefront has a leaded prismatic glass transom with “Clough & Pillsbury” inset in colored glass.

Now vacant, the former hardware store building has also housed a Sherwin-Williams paint store and a thrift store. The upper floors retain several historic hardware displays and inventory, including cutlery, stoves, tinware, paints, fishing tackle and sporting goods.

According to Maine Preservation, William Clough and Walter Pillsbury opened a hardware business in the building in 1916.

The building has been vacant for at least a decade. The town took ownership through tax foreclosure in 2009. The town held on to the building through the past decade while questions around its condition and around environmental concerns were addressed, said O’Keefe, noting that the building was found to be in better condition than initially thought.

At one point, a snowplow struck a back corner of the building, which allowed water to infiltrate the basement. Much of the original detailing remains intact throughout the building, mostly on the upper floors.

There’s a small amount of asbestos-containing materials, mainly pipe insulation. Hazardous waste includes mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs and potentially a toxic coolant known as PCB in certain light ballasts as well as paint thinners and associated paint products, according to the RFP. The town has determined the location of the hazardous materials.

In 2019, O’Keefe said his estimate to remove asbestos and hazardous materials is somewhere around $10,000, “but does not appear to be excessive or to be a barrier.”

Regarding the importance of the building, he said, “It really maintains the integrity of the historic district. Rehabilitating the structure really helps with that, and kind of connects a couple of historic structures.”

O’Keefe said the Clough & Pillbury building is vital to the continuity of the district as a whole in the area.

“We’ve had clear interest from the public and downtown advocacy groups like Envision Rumford and downtown merchants in seeing that building rehabilitated, and support from the Select Board,” he said.


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