This is a list of Portland’s most endangered historic places.
PORTLAND, Maine – From a historic Irish neighborhood to a crumbling mansion to little-seen 19th-century railroad culverts, the 2021 Places in Danger list highlights some of Greater Portland’s most endangered landmarks.
Greater Portland Landmarks unveiled its sixth list Thursday night at an annual meeting.
The occasional tally, first established in 2012, draws attention to historically significant places defining the community around the city threatened by development or neglect.
“These properties help define Greater Portland. Either way, the sites we have identified contribute to our community identity and help us interpret the stories of people who have shaped the places we love, ”said Sarah Hansen, Executive Director of Landmarks.
By placing them on the list, Landmarks seeks to educate the community about the importance of these places while drawing public attention to their significance in both state and local history.
Out of 30 properties included in previous lists, Landmarks considers seven now permanently preserved or adapted and reused. The organization also reports seven more on the way to this status.
The rest remains in jeopardy.
Here is the 2021 list.
Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
Built in the 1850s for businessman John Goddard, this crumbling Italian stone skeleton overlooks Fort Williams Park from its rocky perch on top of a seaside hill. It has long been a structure. iconic partial and an old play area for imaginative children.
In the 20th century, the manor was part of the active military installation at Fort Williams, housing non-commissioned officers. The mansion – and the fort – were both abandoned in the 1960s, and the local fire department burned down the mansion’s rotten interior in 1981.
The ruins of the building were fenced for security reasons in 2009 and little maintenance has taken place since then.
The 2021 park master plan project proposes to remove the side and rear walls, stabilizing only the front facade. While there is still local support to save the mansion, funding is needed.
Historic Resources in Bayside District
Bayside home to many of Portland’s earliest homes. While other areas of Portland suffered considerable loss in the Great Fire of 1866, much of West Bayside was untouched by the blazes.
However, during the urban renewal movement of the mid-20th century, Portland’s Slum Clearance and Redevelopment Authority targeted the predominantly immigrant neighborhood. In 1958, the Authority demolished over 100 homes and small businesses in what is now called East Bayside. Another 54 homes were razed for the Bayside Park project, which now includes public housing at Fox Field and Kennedy Park.
Bayside continues to experience increased development pressures, particularly in places associated with the Armenian-American and Chinese-American communities in the early 20th century.
Landmarks argues that preserving what remains of historic Bayside is essential to understanding the city’s full multi-ethnic history.
Gorham’s Corner this is where Danforth, York, Pleasant, Union and Fore Streets meet. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was primarily an Irish quarter.
Named in honor of the first inhabitant William Gorham, a grocer, it was a working class neighborhood. Known for its saloons and buildings, it has long been considered an unsavory part of the city.
The Urban Renewal demolitions, which began in the 1970s, reduced much of the historic district to parking lots, especially west of Center Street. Only a handful of historic buildings remain and their future is uncertain as development pressures continue.
Congress Street, Portland
Mechanics ‘Hall was designed by Portland architect Thomas J. Sparrow 170 years ago for the Maine Charitable Mechanics’ Association. It still houses their library and serves as a communal gathering space for Portland’s creative community.
It’s a well-preserved example of mid-19th century Italian architecture and is one of the few surviving buildings designed by Sparrow. But the building is threatened by its leaky roof, which has let in bad weather for decades.
The Mechanics Association has always lacked funds to properly solve the problem and it is reaching a critical stage where it could seriously damage the structure of the building.
Mountain Division Railroad Culverts
Westbrook and Windham
The Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad was chartered in 1867, and construction began in 1869. For nearly 100 years, its engines and railroad cars drove west through New Hampshire and Vermont.
Passenger service on the Scenic Highway ended in 1958, and freight trains ceased to operate after Guilford Transportation (now Pan Am Railways) acquired it in the 1980s.
But the line is historic and functional stone culverts to stay. However, inactivity along the rail corridor has led to the deterioration of the condition of many of them.
Landmarks said land surveying was desperately needed to identify the current condition of the culverts, especially if the line were ever to become active again.