The Carlton Building and H.R. Dunham Building: Waterville, Maine

Picture of The Carlton Building and H.R. Dunham Building in Waterville, Maine

The Carlton Building and H.R. Dunham Building in Waterville, Maine

As part of our building history series, today we take a look at a two-fer . . . the The Carlton Building and H.R. Dunham Building in Waterville, Maine. These building histories are combined because the buildings themselves have been combined into one building.

The Carlton Building (right side): “Mrs. C. G. Carleton had this brick building built in 1899-90 to replace an existing wooden structure. The 1 st floor was DeOrsay Drug Store and the 2 nd floor was Preble Photo Studio. In 1903 the 3 rd floor was leased to Colby College. It was here that the first Colby College sorority was started. The sorority went on to become a national sorority.”

“When Urban Renewal came to Waterville the plan was to raze this building and make a walkway from the Concourse to Main Street. However, before the building could be razed, the merchants found that people walked through the building to get to the other side. They liked the foot traffic and decided they did not need the walkway.”

“Kennebec Federal Savings & Loan bought the building at auction in 1972 and relocated here in 1974. They also bought the H. R. Dunham building in the 1980s. The bank now occupies both the H. R. Dunham building to the south and the Carleton building to the north. Both buildings have metal siding, which covers the original facades.”

The H.R. Dunham Building (left side): “Horatio Dunham graduated from Colby in 1886 and with George Dolloff opened Dolloff & Dunham in 1887. In 1897 it became The H. R. Dunham Co. Mr. Dunham retired in 1912, and ownership fell to William Brown who started with Dunham in 1909.”

“Dunham’s produced their first catalogue in 1932 – a penny postcard featuring a Hathaway shirt, which they had begun carrying on an exclusive basis. By 1952, Dunham’s had earned the title of “America’s No. 1 Hathaway Shirt Store”. Also in 1932, Dunham’s was gutted by fire and everything was lost. They were able to reopen in six months because their reputation had earned them good credit. It was the beginning of a mail order business that would stretch from coast to coast.”

“Ron Brown, who had great marketing insight, joined the family business. By running ski trains from Waterville to Rumford and starting the Colby ski slope, he began a thriving business with winter clothing and ski equipment.”

“In 1951 Dunham’s acquired the adjoining building. Ron retired and sold to Hathaway executive Dick Norton. It was bought in 1975 by Robert Fairburn and closed in 1984 for good.”

“In 1985 the building was remodeled and aluminum siding applied, covering the nineteenth century brick facade. Today this building is home to KFS.”

Source: Waterville Main Street

Note that both histories reference the aluminum siding on both buildings. As you can see in our photo, the aluminum has thankfully been removed and new siding is being (been?) installed. The picture is a few months old, so the work is likely done by now . . . if anyone has a new picture they wish to share, please let us know.

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