FARMINGDALE — 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.

“We moved from California, eight of us: my wife and I, our four children and her parents,” Jacobsohn said. “It was the right size and we thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Jacobsohn, 83, a forensic psychiatrist, came to Maine to work at the Augusta State Hospital — later known as the Augusta Mental Health Institute — and rose to be clinical director. He also served as the director of the State Forensic Services.

He retired in 1998.

Today, he lives in Granite Hill Estates in Hallowell, as does another prior occupant of 1 Northern Ave., Cynthia Sheaffer Bean.

Both Jacobsohn and Bean toured their former home with bank officials.

“When I look at it, I have to say it’s a shame it’s fallen on such hard times,” Jacobsohn said. “I have a sentimental attachment, so when I pass by I sort of shake my head that it’s not being taken care of.”

Jacobsohn took particular care of the property; he used to enjoy mowing the grass and enjoyed the large flag pole outside.

“It was a grand house,” he said.

Jacobsohn and his wife had wanted to move from California and they saw the home before it came on the market. It was occupied by Lewis Sheaffer and his wife Katharine Hazzard Sheaffer, affiliated with the R. P. Hazzard Co. Shoe Factory in Gardiner.

The house was a showpiece — with a large first-floor ballroom with a hardwood ceiling that had been converted to bedrooms, Jacobsohn said. He was told that about $1 million had been spent on repairing and updating the house in the mid-1930s.

Along with being one of the ship captain’s homes that lines Maine Avenue in Farmingdale, the house carried the label of “head house of Farmingdale,” which Jacobsohn defined as “the house that paid the most taxes.”

He and his family toured the home on a visit to Maine. “My children ran all over the place up and down the stairs whooping and hollering,” Jacobsohn said. While he was embarrassed at the time, “I learned subsequently that Mrs. Sheaffer was enthralled with the sounds of those children’s voices. It brought back a lot of memories.”

When it finally came on the market, the $160,000 price tag was too steep.

“It was more than I could come up with,” Jacobsohn said. Then, somehow, the Sheaffers heard he was pining for it in California.

They contacted him, reduced the price to $90,000, and offered to finance that themselves, which Jacobsohn thought was amazingly generous for strangers.

When Jacobsohn sold the home in 2006, new owners lived there for a short time before moving out of state.

Building anew

The house wasn’t occupied after that, Jacobsohn said, and then the bank acquired it.

Jacobsohn said he and Johnston have talked about the history of the home and the bank’s plans.

“It’s a shame it has taken so long to come to fruition,” Jacobsohn said. “I know what he wanted to do was restore it in grand style as a 19th-century home.”

Kennebec Savings Bank officials say the new branch building will be completed later this year. It will be the only bank in Farmingdale.

The bank’s plans won approval last month by the Farmingdale Planning Board. Chairman Bill Longfellow said the bank had to show that the site would have enough parking and a stormwater runoff system, among other requirements.

Construction management was awarded to Winthrop-based HP Cummings Construction Company, and Coffin Engineering of Farmingdale and WBRC Architects of Bangor are working on the site plan and building design.

Bank officials said the building will fit into the largely residential neighborhood.

“We are committed to making sure that this new building is beautiful and architecturally appropriate for its area,” said Andrew E. Silsby, the bank’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a prepared statement about the project.

Bank officials said they have worked with the Farmingdale Historical Society, Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation “to ensure that the newly constructed building will have the look and feel of the building that will be removed from the property.”

Plans call for specialty landscaping and a community room available for local meetings.

The bank has had a temporary branch office at 35 Bridge St., Gardiner, for the last two years, and the new branch will replace that office if the bank receives approval from the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Between five and seven people will be employed there, Johnston said.

“Our customers have been asking for us to be in the Gardiner area for years,” said William S. Hill, a regional vice president. “Taking up more permanent residency at 1 Northern Ave. will hopefully show that we are very committed to being there for the long term. We are confident that the time, energy and resources we have devoted to this project will be worth it.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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