This demolition alert is particularly appalling because we have seen this house over the years and the characterization that it is “too far gone” seems to be a stretch of someone’s imagination. While we haven’t seen the inside (aside from the MLS listing when it was for sale a few years back), the outside of the home looks like it is pretty solid and certainly not a public nuisance–unlike, say, the Mica Factory in Bristol, New Hampshire.
We think it’s just a convenient excuse for demolition and, despite what the Kennebec Savings Bank says, there is no way they will be able to replicate this magnificent building. What’s worse is that entire stretch of Route 201, just over the town border with Gardiner, Maine, is full of mansions just like it overlooking the mighty Kennebec River.
This bank is the first step of the “commercialization” of the area that will see one mansion after the other succumb to the wrecking ball–much like what happened on Western Avenue in Augusta, Maine where all the historic mansions are long gone having been replaced by strip malls.
Here is the story from the Kennebec Journal on the impending demolition of 1 Northern Avenue in Farmingdale, Maine:
A former ship captain’s mansion that has stood at 1 Northern Ave. since 1826 is scheduled to be torn down as soon as next week.
In its place will rise a new branch for Kennebec Savings Bank, which will resemble its predecessor by being “historically accurate, environmentally responsible, and an efficient version of the current building,” bank officials say.
Kennebec Savings Bank purchased the Farmingdale property in 2010.
The bank is a $795 million state-chartered mutual savings bank with 96 employees and offices in Waterville, Winthrop, Gardiner and Augusta, where the bank occupies the historic 1816 Tappan-Viles House on State Street.
Mark Johnston, bank president and chief executive officer, said the new branch in Farmingdale is designed to capture the architectural features of the historic home.
“Our intent was to preserve at least the front part of the building — the part that comes closest to Maine Avenue,” he said. “But the architects and engineers said it’s too far gone. Structurally, it’s in bad shape. It’s been retrofitted to the point that it’s virtually impossible to get it back to original condition.”
The current building is large — 3,900 square feet. Dr. Ulrich Jacobsohn, who lived there for almost 35 years beginning in 1971, recalls just how big: 15 rooms and five bathrooms.
Farmingdale, Maine doesn’t have a traditional downtown and the area around this home is probably its most distinctively historic–see Google Map below (note the house is hard to see thanks to hedgerows). We feel that Farmingdale residents will eventually experience “buyer’s remorse” over this demolition which seems all but certain.