Demolition Alert 6: John Calvin Stevens Designed Carriage House in Gardiner, Maine

Picture of John Calvin Stevens designed Carriage House in Danger of Demolition at 18 Dennis Street in Gardiner Maine

18 Dennis Street in Gardiner, Maine

According to the Kennebec Journal, an historic carriage house designed by John Calvin Stevens at 18 Dennis Street in Gardiner, Maine is in imminent danger of demolition:

Councilors on Wednesday will deal with real estate issues, including a dangerous building and the sale of a historic house foreclosed on by the city for back taxes.

Terance Christopherson and Lisa Hicks of Sunrise Business Solutions made a bid in July on the former carriage house built in 1903 at 18 Dennis St.

They offered to buy the building for $10,000 and demolish the structure and merge the lot with property at 22 Dennis St. The demolition costs is estimated to be between $27,000 and $29,500.

The building, which has been assessed at $200,000 and has fallen into disrepair. It was designed by noted Portland architect John Calvin Stevens and was part of the Frank E. Boston estate. Boston was a founder of the Gardiner General Hospital and general manager of Hollingsworth & Whitney Paper Co., which was bought by Scott Paper Co. in 1954.

Christopherson said merging the two lots should increase the market value and desirability of all the properties on Dennis Street.

“On Dennis Street, the bidder made an offer of $10,000 to demo the building and combine the lot with one they own next to it,” said City Manager Scott Morelli Thursday. “The council accepted with two conditions — that the new lot not be used for a multi-family home and a timeline be established for demolition. The bidder will not agree to a timeline so the council is going to consider whether they want to proceed with a lot sale or seek other options.”

While the push for demolition seems to be on hold, the home’s description from Gardiner’s Request for Proposals (dated July 15, 2011) would suggest finding alternative uses would be a much better option:

The property is a two-story, converted carriage house that was built in 1903 as part of an estate. The carriage house was built in a “shingle style” as designed by noted architect John Calvin Stevens. It contains approximately 13 rooms and 4,735 square feet living space. The lot is approximately .51acres in a high density residentially zoned area.

However, Gardiner has commissioned a structural inspection report (pdf) by Ferguson Consulting Engineers that found serious issues with the house, especially the foundation. The study estimates the cost of necessary repairs at a jaw-dropping $192,000–and that’s just to stabilize the house, not the full cost of restoration.

Realistically, the state of the housing market in Gardiner does not justify dropping that kind of coin on a house that far gone. Yet, the last time we checked, John Calvin Stevens isn’t designing any more homes . . . so, on the other hand, you gotta keep what you got.

Also, don’t forget to peruse our picture gallery of downtown Gardiner, Maine. And our next blog post that we are working will have some good news, stay tuned 🙂

Here is a view of the home in Google Maps:

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Please add your thoughtful comment . . .

T. Christopherson, thanks for your comment.  We had no intention of “making negative connotations” about you or your motivations for wanting to buy and demolish 18 Dennis St.  We were simply interpreting what the KJ story said . . . if they have gotten the story wrong please let us know and we will help you correct it.

Also, thank you for your efforts to save other historic properties in Gardiner.  Having lived there for awhile, we know first-hand about the architectural gems to be found there.  If you do find buyer for 18 Dennis, we would love to hear about it and to feature it in our new “History Saved” series–as well as the two buildings you are currently working on.

However, we do have one difference with you pertaining to your comment: “just because it is old does not mean it is worth keeping.”  In our view, any building pushing 100+ deserves special consideration.  Even modest homes of that age likely contain old-growth timber and fine craftsmanship–both of which are rare today.

Can all old homes be saved?  Certainly not.  But we think every building of such age deserves a chance.  That’s the reason why we have our “Demolition Alert” series which is to try to pair up these old buildings with a potential restorer–before the wrecking ball arrives.

Tsc1 says:

“The push for demolition”
Come on nothing like making negative connotations without all the facts or even knowing anything about the people you are making negative connotations about.
It just so happens that we are currently restoring two buildings in Gardiner, out of pocket and because this is just something, we like doing.  Both of these houses are older than 18 Dennis and one has a whole lot more historic value than 18 Dennis Street but I sure do not hear anyone making noise about them.
It also happens that Lisa may have found an individual who may be interested in restoring 18 Dennis, despite the major negative value, which is a lot better than all the people that are just make noise about such things are doing.
Just because it is old does not mean it is worth keeping (i.e. historic or antique) and just because it is damaged, does not mean it is worth throwing away, do you know how to tell the difference?

T. Christopherson