HALLOWELL – It’s sometimes remarked that older houses have fallen out of favor, in large part because most home-seekers these days want a place they don’t have to do any work on.

Here is a conspicuous exception: An historic home that when purchased eight years ago needed extensive renovation to meet contemporary expectations of comfort, lifestyle and efficiency, and to some degree, aesthetics.

But the buyer was not deterred. Dr. Abby Thrower, a native Southerner, an oncologist with a demanding career, and the single mother of an elementary-schooler and a middle-schooler, had moved to Maine from Iowa and chosen Hallowell, primarily for the excellence of its school system. The next step was to find a house.

This Federal-era classic, three blocks from downtown in a desirable neighborhood of architecturally distinctive period homes, proved the answer, although “I knew it would need a lot of work,” Thrower says.

Which the house received, in stages, over the next few years. Here’s a (necessarily incomplete) look at improvements.

First, the marble-surround fireplace in the living room was converted to gas, to facilitate the room’s use as an office. Then came a months-long gutting of three small upstairs rooms in the ell, to create a master suite. A laundry was added, too.

That summer (2011) a concrete pool disused except by frogs was removed, as was the listing garage, to be replaced by a handsome two-car version with a very spacious bonus/recreation room above.

Stonework for a new, fenced back patio soon followed, as did stonework for a terraced garden in the courtyard/dooryard, Thrower remembers. A garden shed was added. A pellet stove in the “old” living room, and a stove in the master bedroom as part of the 2015 conversion to natural gas, helped bring the home’s heating zones to six. Attic and basement were insulated.

The kitchen’s stainless appliances and granite counters are 2014-new. Re-roofing of the front of the house in 2018 completed that seven-year task.

While enjoying the updates, Thrower also appreciates original details, such as the signatures delicately etched into a dining room window’s antique glass. She notes that although the house was officially built c. 1822, a visiting art historian pointed out plaster predating the War of 1812.

That is consistent with research by Curtis Beal (as kindly related by city historian Sumner “Sam” Webber) showing that Isaac Clark Jr., son of Hallowell’s first settler, Deacon Pease Clark, built this house soon after buying the land in 1810.

Another cool fact: In the late 1850s, one bedroom was called the Tom Reed Room. Future Speaker of the U.S. House Thomas Brackett Reed always stayed there when visiting Bowdoin classmate Charles Gardiner, whose father, Donald, owned the house.

And finally, note that 41 Academy St. is listed for sale (by Harrison Wolfington of Laflin & Wolfington Realty in Hallowell). The new owner need not fret about “homework.”

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