2014-03-07 / Front Page

Move a foot to save historic buildings

Historical committee has reviewed study and narrowed list of structures ‘of historical or architectural significance’
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Scarborough’s official history dates back to 1658, when it was incorporated, but settlers came to the area much earlier than that. Since then Scarborough has continued to grow into the community it is today.

The Historic Preservation Committee was formed last spring to address the fact that as development moves in, Scarborough is in jeopardy of losing its historical homes and other places of historical significance.

Scarborough Historical Society President Becky Delaware, who serves on the committee, said the group’s recommendations were born out of a historical house survey the Scarborough Historical Society did in the early 1990s.

Through grant money from Greater Portland Landmarks, a historical preservation expert came to Scarborough to document homes that were more than 50 years old.

Delaware said more than 1,280 structures “of historical or architectural significance,” were chronicled in 80 large binders at the society’s headquarters, a former Portland Railroad Company building next to the Dunstan Corner Fire Station.


The old Southgate House, which dates back to 1805, has been listed as endangered by the ad hoc Historic Preservation Committee. The property, located near the new Payne Road intersection on Route 1, is one of nine locations listed as endangered, many of which are in Dunstan Corner. Left, the committee was formed last year to help the town preserve and honor its history, including the site of a meteorite strike in front of the Southgate House in the 1930s. The committee presented a preliminary list of endangered buildings, historic homes, old cemeteries and other important historic locations to the Town Council Feb. 19. (Michael Kelley photos) The old Southgate House, which dates back to 1805, has been listed as endangered by the ad hoc Historic Preservation Committee. The property, located near the new Payne Road intersection on Route 1, is one of nine locations listed as endangered, many of which are in Dunstan Corner. Left, the committee was formed last year to help the town preserve and honor its history, including the site of a meteorite strike in front of the Southgate House in the 1930s. The committee presented a preliminary list of endangered buildings, historic homes, old cemeteries and other important historic locations to the Town Council Feb. 19. (Michael Kelley photos) The committee, she said, condensed the list to 318 and eventually less than 50, including nine that are considered endangered.


The Mulberry Milliken barn (at rear) has been listed as an endangered place in Scarborough by the ad hoc Historic Preservation Committee. The property was the longtime site of Mulberry Tavern, a tavern, inn and stable for travelers. (Michael Kelley photo) The Mulberry Milliken barn (at rear) has been listed as an endangered place in Scarborough by the ad hoc Historic Preservation Committee. The property was the longtime site of Mulberry Tavern, a tavern, inn and stable for travelers. (Michael Kelley photo) “These properties are in immediate danger because of neglect or new ownership,” Delaware said.

The properties include a number of sites in Dunstan Corner — one of the first areas settled in town — including the Dr. Bacon/ Roy house (1798), Mulberry Milliken barn (1815), Dunstan School Restaurant (1944), the Southgate House (1805) and the old Dunstan School/AMVET building on the corner of Old Blue Point Road.

Also endangered is the fountain and arch that was located in Danish Village, on property near what is now the Big 20 Bowling Center.

Another 10 properties have been listed as under the threat of being endangered if the ownership changes.

Those properties include two inns at Higgins Beach – the Breakers Inn (1900) and the Higgins Beach Inn (1923) – as well as several sites in North Scarborough, including the North Scarborough Grange (1913), Pearson Farm (1800s), Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (1949), in addition to the Southgate House (1805), site of a meteorite strike in the 1930s, Wayland/St. Louis home (1912) and Ezra Carter Farm (1815) in Dunstan Corner.

A number of historic homes have also been noted for their significance to the town, including the Abraham Plummer house (1750), Benjamin Chadwick House (1776), Lancaster House (1763), Dr. Haigis house (1930s) and the Hunnewell houses, which date back to 1684 and 1731.

Delaware said the committee also came up with a list of sites that are important, but are not marked or well known.

They include the great grave at Massacre Pond on the way to Scarborough Beach (1702), the Indian Jane site in Blue Point (1600s), the site of the first town hall on Bridges Drive (early 1800s), the Cumberland Turnpike and the canal system through Scarborough Marsh.

Other unmarked places of significance include the site of an 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth tusk unearthed on Mitchell Hill Road in 1959, Rye Field (1770s) on Old Blue Point Road, the soldiers monument in Dunstan Corner (1913) and a marker for the old Boston Post, or King’s Highway (mid 1700s) on the site of Maine Medical Center.

“I am thrilled to see Scarborough is finally looking at its historic buildings. I live in a pretty old home, but not as old as these,” Town Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina said. “It is important to protect the character of the town.”

The intent is not to force the property owners to take action, but to help educate them about the history of their property.

“Our goal was to offer a carrot and encourage property owners to participate,” said Jessica Holbrook, who serves as the council liaison to the Historic Preservation Committee.

Holbrook said the committee is working with Town Planner Dan Bacon on how to encourage participation.

Bacon, who was scheduled to meet with the committee on Tuesday, March 4, said they are still working on ways to help property owners preserve historic structures.

“We are still vetting some ideas and hopefully more ideas will come out of additional meetings and we will be able to come before the council with a package of ideas,” Bacon said.

One thought, he said, was to give developers a density bonus that would allow them to build an extra unit if they agree to preserve the historic home, building or character of the property.

The committee’s work comes after recently losing two historic structures.

Widow’s Walk, a historic home on Black Point Road that dated to at least the 1790s, was razed last year after years of neglect. The barn on Benjamin Farm, which was of immediate concern, collapsed as the committee was finalizing its list.

“It’s too bad we didn’t get started a little earlier because we lost the Widow’s Walk,” Council Chairman Richard Sullivan said. “This is an important committee for the town and the preservation of our history.”

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