AGC Maine announced that Gorham, Maine-based Knowles Industrial Services, Inc earned the distinguished Build Maine Award for Building Renovation at the Thompson Block in Portland. The Build Maine Award is a competitive review by an independent panel of judges from the design, engineering, construction community, and representative who carefully grades the projects into consideration.
The Thompson Block is a historic commercial building located at 117, 119, 121, 123, and 125 Middle Street in downtown Portland, Maine. It was designed by architect George M. Harding and constructed in 1867, in the wake of Portland’s great 1866 fire. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 28, 1973.
“One of the unique aspects of the construction industry is the work to restore historic buildings. Knowles Industrial Services has a proven track record of completing meticulous work that completes intricate buildings people admire walking by Portland’s Old Port. The skilled workers who restored the award-winning project did a terrific job and should be extremely proud to say they restored a piece of history,” said Matt Marks, CEO of AGC Maine.
The Thompson Block is located in Portland’s Old Port area, on the north side of Middle Street. It is a 3-1/2 story brick building, roughly trapezoidal in shape, with a polychrome slate mansard roof providing a full fourth floor. A stone entablature separates the ground floor from the next two floors. The floors are divided by stone belt courses above and below the windows. Windows on the second floor are paired round-arch windows with keystones, while third-floor windows have segmented-arch tops with stone hoods. Two of these are more ornate, rising into wall dormers. Dormers at the roof level have round-arch windows with keystone and eared hoods.
The Thompson Block is currently owned and operated by East Brown Cow Management Inc. of Portland, Maine. The building is currently an office and retail space in the Portland Historic District. The building was once called the, “most high-style complex of Victorian commercial buildings ever erected in the State of Maine.” After years of neglect to the brownstone, sandstone, and brick façade from previous owners, East Brown Cow Management Inc. decided to task Knowles Industrial Services and Sutherland Conservation with developing and implementing a façade restoration program.
It is widely known that brownstone, although a popular building material in this era, does not endure harsh weather and neglect like similar building materials such as granite and limestone. This was very apparent in this case. It was determined immediately that the traditional methods of repairing brownstone with formwork, patching, and carving would suffice here because of the extreme ornate features surrounding the windows along with the quoins and belt courses. The repair approach was to create negative molds and cast new stones using a historic restoration casting mortar. The new castings’ shapes and colors required approval from the state historic preservation office.
Following all the repairs, the Thompson Block is once again considered one of Portland’s pristine buildings in the heart of its’ Historic District.