Photo courtesy of Woodhull Commercial Construction.

BETHEL — The Northern Forest Center has begun redeveloping the historic Gehring House on Broad Street. The renovation of the building will create eight high-quality apartments with rents geared toward Bethel’s median-income earners. Plans also include one studio.

The first phase of work includes some interior demolition and asbestos removal. Woodhull Commercial Construction of Portland, Maine, designed the renovation and is the Center’s construction manager for the project, which is expected to run through the summer of 2025. The construction cost is estimated at $3 million.

For safety, the property will be closed to the public during construction. Walkers and cyclists who normally cross the property should use the Bingham Extension Trail, managed by Inland Woods + Trails, which can be accessed on Fairway Drive, or by following signs across the front lawn to the trailhead. The project will restore the historic character of the building, which was constructed in 1896 and is one of the most architecturally and historically significant buildings in Bethel, according to William F. Chapman, executive director of Museums of the Bethel Historical Society.

‘Woodhull is working closely with our historic consultant to ensure that all preliminary demolition has no risk of compromising historic features,’ said Amy Scott, the Center’s program manager, who is overseeing the redevelopment project alongside her work managing the Maine West collaborative. ‘Asbestos remediation is minimal – primarily floor tiles in the kitchen and some bathrooms. Additional demolition is mostly on the third floor, where many of the interior walls are modern and historical characteristics are minimal,’ she said.

The Center, which purchased the property in December 2022, has applied for historic tax credits to help restore the building and reposition it as vital housing for the community. The Gehring House is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the renovation will comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation.

Further interior renovations will include repairing and replacing sills, shoring up or removing exterior porches and decks, replacing the oil boilers with wood pellet boilers, which will serve as the primary heat source, and conducting lead abatement throughout the building. The exterior will be painted ‘oxblood’ deep red, similar to its original color. Haley Ward Engineering of Bangor has developed the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans for the building.


The Center strives to incorporate local and regional wood products in all its redevelopment projects, including wood heat from automated heating systems and wood-based insulation. The Gehring House will be heated with a wood pellet boiler, and Timber HP of Madison, Maine will supply the new insulation.

‘The historic Gehring House has special meaning for The Bethel Resort and Suites, and we’re very excited to see the building come back to life,’ said Tori Hicinbothem, general manager of The Bethel Resort & Suites. ‘Long-term housing for employees of local businesses is such a vital necessity for our community. This project will add housing accessibility so badly needed in our thriving and continuously growing town.’

The Center uses a mix of funding sources to achieve its goal of creating high-quality apartments that can be rented at middle-market rates. Sources include the Center’s Northern Forest Fund – which integrates private impact investments, philanthropic donations, and grants from public sources – as well as tax credits, grants, and donations for this specific project. Scott said that contributions from the community are important both financially and to show other funders that the project has strong local support. Donations can be made online at

The Northern Forest Center is an innovation and investment partner serving the Northern Forest of northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. In 2017, the Center expanded its programming to include redeveloping underused properties to enable young professionals and families to find homes and contribute to rural communities.

‘Our aim is to create middle-market housing that will be attractive and financially within reach for people and families who contribute to the community through their work as teachers, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs, hospitality professionals, and other roles,’ said Scott.

The Center previously completed two major property initiatives: In Lancaster, N.H., the $3.8-million redevelopment of the Parker J. Noyes building, which created 6 middle-market apartments and commercial space for a local nonprofit and food marketplace; and the Millinocket (Maine) Housing Initiative, which invested more than $1 million to renovate six homes, creating 11 quality rental units from properties that had been severely neglected.

The Gehring House redevelopment project complements the Center’s ongoing work in the western Maine region, including projects that improve recreation access and resources, provide workforce training, assist wood products and tourism-related businesses, advance sustainable tourism, develop Community Forests, expand broadband service, and build non-profit capacity.

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