WATERVILLE — When Charlie Giguere bought 2 Silver St. in 2011, the building had a successful restaurant on the first floor, but the upstairs apartments were in a state of disrepair.

“The building had been nearly condemned by the city because of the living conditions,” Giguere said. “Everybody was forced to move out because of code violations and stuff like that. It was a distressed property.”

Four years and about $300,000 later, the building is home to two brand-new apartments and six offices, all of which are occupied. It’s also one of 16 properties across Maine to recently be recognized by Maine Preservation, a historic preservation group, for the rehabilitation and use of a historic building.

“I think it adds character to the property,” Giguere said of the renovation. “It’s a good example for what can be done with other buildings on Main Street, because there are buildings that are on the historic registry and have not yet been rehabbed.”

In a news release, Maine Preservation stated that the renovations at 2 Silver St. “transformed derelict spaces into usable apartments and offices, while also maintaining the building’s historic integrity.”

Other area properties recognized by the organization through its statewide honor awards include the former Hallowell Granite Works Office in Hallowell, a converted office space; Campbell Barn in Augusta, a property of the former Augusta Mental Health Institute; the Unity Food Hub in Unity, a former three-room schoolhouse turned local agriculture hub; and the Cony Flatiron Apartments in Augusta, a housing complex for the elderly that was constructed out of the former Cony High School.

In Waterville, the 2 Silver St. building dates to 1877, when it was built by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Over time it has housed a number of entities, including the Waterville National Bank, a U.S. post office, a clothing and footwear store and more recently the Silver Street Tavern, which opened in the space in the 1970s.

Giguere explained that while the tavern ran successfully on the first floor of the building for years, the upstairs apartments fell into disrepair.

He decided to invest in the building in 2011, noting the restaurant’s success. It was named as part of the Waterville Main Street Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

That designation was part of the impetus behind the renovation of the upper floors, because it allowed the building to qualify for federal and state tax credits through the National Park Service for the repairs, Giguere said.

“In order to do the work, we really needed help of federal and state tax credits,” he said. “It wasn’t a viable project if you had to invest that much money without having some money reimbursed in the form of tax credits.”

The credits will allow Giguere to recover about 45 percent of the $300,000 investment in the building, he said.

Renovations started in 2012 with the help of a project team including SD Construction, owned by Scott Downie; Sutherland Conservation & Consulting; Kico Passalacqua and Mark McDonough.

They removed tons of debris from the building before starting the renovation. In order to keep with the requirements for historic renovations, they carefully documented all changes with photographs before and after the changes. In November 2014 the building opened with new one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and six offices, all of which are occupied.

Giguere also owns and renovated 137 Main St., which houses Amici’s Cucina on the first floor and has three apartments on upper floors, an apartment building on West Street and rental units in Winslow. He also owns the apartments at 28 Main St. next to the Silver Street building.

He said the renovation at 2 Silver St. is an example of what can be done to revitalize downtown Waterville. The state and federal historic tax credits also have been used in other Waterville and area projects, including the renovation of the Gilman Street School into low-income housing, the Hathaway Creative Center and the Gerald Hotel in Fairfield.

“(The tax credits) work,” Giguere said. “They encourage people to rehab these old buildings.”

Maine Preservation said in its news release announcing the awards that 10 of the projects this year used the tax credits.

Some 70 privately developed projects since 2008 “have injected more than a third-of-a-billion dollars ($350 million) into the state’s construction economy through the use of Maine Historic Preservation Tax Credits.”

The release said that each of the recognized projects “helped to fulfill community needs, while providing a boost to the economy and the real estate industry throughout the state.”

The other Waterville and Augusta area projects recognized are:

Former Hallowell Granite Works office

The former Hallowell Granite Works Office at 19 Central St., built in 1830, was bought by Jim Duncklee and Ken Nott in 2013. “The worn condition of the building required extensive rehabilitation, from foundation to roof and from infrastructure to finishes,” according to the news release.

State and federal tax credits were used, and “the owners now have a high-quality office space with desirable walk-to-Main Street housing on the upper floors. The completed project serves as an example of the ways that rehabilitation and revitalization have positive economic effects and enormous impact on the life of a small community.”

Campbell Barn, Augusta

The massive barn, built in 1903 on Hospital Street, was part of the Augusta Mental Health Institute. “Unused since the 1950s, Campbell Barn had fallen into disrepair,” the release said. “Without a clear vision for its future, no funding was available to maintain or restore the barn” until the Maine Bureau of General Services decided to restore it. “Restoration and rehabilitation provided usable space to support the revitalization of the East Campus of the AMHI and rewarded the Bureau of General Services’ efforts to transform and re-use state-owned buildings across Maine,” the release said.

Unity Food Hub, Unity

The three-room Unity Village School, built in 1898, had been empty for years and was “in serious disrepair.”

“In 2013, recognizing the potential of the vacant rural schoolhouse, Maine Farmland Trust bought the building as a home for the Unity Food Hub,” the news release said. State and federal historic tax credits were used to help make the project financially viable.

“Many original interior features such as the beadboard walls, wainscoting and ceilings, hardwood floors, and molded window and door trim were retained,” the release said. “The Food Hub now functions as a space for local gatherings, food workshops, community activities and local farmers to meet and distribute produce. The once-abandoned school has become a vibrant shared space that, today, enhances the community, while reminding visitors of treasured traditions from Maine’s rural past.”

Cony Flatiron apartments, Augusta

The former Cony High School flatiron building, on Cony Circle, was completed in 1926. The building was added to the National Register in 1988. It had been vacant since a new high school was built in 2006. In 2013 the renovation into Cony Flatiron Senior Residence began. “Federal and Maine state tax credits were essential to the project’s success,” said Maine Preservation. The project, which resulted in 48 apartments, “retained significant architectural interior features such as the auditorium, corridors, and the central open stair.”

“Historic windows were also restored and non-historic windows were replaced with new units,” the release said. “The large arched windows originally at the rear of the building were reopened and new windows also installed. The rehabilitation of Cony High School returned a vacant building to service while respecting local history and honoring the experience — and memories — of generations of local students.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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