A historic train depot in Yarmouth is under contract.

The nonprofit group Maine Preservation announced Monday that Ford Reiche will buy the 1906 Grand Trunk Railroad Depot on Main Street and convert it to commercial office space. His previous preservation works include the Halfway Rock Light Station off the coast of Harpswell and the Charles B. Clark House in Portland.

“It is really unique that a station that is in such great original condition is in such a terrific location – Main Street Yarmouth,” said Reiche, who lives in Freeport.

The Yarmouth Village Improvement Society has owned the building for five decades and worked with Maine Preservation to sell it. The asking price was $165,000. Sarah Hansen, real estate manager for Maine Preservation, declined to disclose the purchase price. She said the parties have not set a closing date yet but hope the deal will be finalized by the end of the summer.

Hansen said the sellers received 14 offers. More than 50 people attended an open house in February.

“We were blown away,” she said. “We knew that there would be interest in the building, but we had no idea how much interest. There was a lot of love for this building.”

The Village Improvement Society liked Reiche for his experience with historic properties, Hansen said. This will be the fifth time Reiche has purchased and restored a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of his other past projects was the rehabilitation of a historic train station on the Grand Trunk Line in Gilead that now serves as the Gilead Historical Society’s headquarters.

“Since saving the Depot in 1968 the (Village Improvement Society) has been able to maintain and preserve this focal point of Yarmouth’s Main Street. Ultimately, we determined the Depot needed to be sold but only with preservation easements to ensure its future as a unique building,” Linda Grant, president of the Village Improvement Society, said in a statement. “Maine Preservation has made this possible and we are thrilled (that) Ford Reiche, who has previously saved historic buildings, will be able to rehab and bring this building back to life on Main Street.”

Built in 1906, the depot was owned by the Canadian National Railway for more than 60 years. When the company stopped running trains to Yarmouth, it proposed tearing down the depot. The Yarmouth Village Improvement Society bought the building for $500 in 1968 to save it from demolition. Starting in 1976, local florists have leased the space. In 1979, the train depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When Village Florist & Company did not renew its lease last year, the Village Improvement Society could no longer afford upkeep of the building. It needs some repairs to the floors and windows, but it has many of its original details, like bead-board walls and a ticket window.

Maine Preservation listed the building as part of its Protect and Sell Program, which connects sellers with buyers who want to rehabilitate historic properties. The nonprofit will hold preservation easements on the property, so it would review any proposed changes and protect the building from demolition. Those easements would still allow for renovations that would make the building more functional, such as updates to the bathrooms or the installation of a small kitchen.

Reiche said he is collecting old photographs and postcards to help him learn more about the building’s original appearance. But much of it is still intact, and he described it as “a time capsule.”

“My thought is to do a complete restoration of the building to its appearance and state back to 1906,” he said.

Reiche said he could not identify any potential tenants, but he plans for the building to be used as retail or office space. The real estate deal is complicated by preservation easements, and much of the surrounding land is owned by either the town or the state. But Reiche said the process has so far been “cooperative.”

“Luckily everybody I’m dealing with wants to see this happen,” he said.

Reiche was one of the founders of Safe Handling Inc., a rail-based shipping company, which he sold in 2009. He previously served as a trustee of Maine Preservation in 2015. The restoration work at the Grand Trunk Railroad Depot will be coordinated by his son George Reiche, who is a board member of Greater Portland Landmarks.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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