BANGOR, Maine - After undergoing some training Tuesday and Wednesday, a group of about 20 volunteers is poised to embark on a preservation survey of what once was one of Bangor’s most affluent neighborhoods.
The objective of the study is to document — through photographs, maps and survey reports — some of the architectural gems that make up the area sometimes referred to as Bangor’ s “Gold Coast,” according to the city’ s application for state historic preservation grant funds.
The results will help determine if the neighborhood would be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, which would then make it eligible to become a local historic district.
Local designation would require a recommendation from the city’ s historic preservation commission and City Council approval.
The area, referred to as the Upper State Street neighborhood, runs along State Street, from Otis Street to Cascade Park, and back as far as Mount Hope Avenue. Some of the homes overlook the Penobscot River.
Some in the city believe that the neighborhood, one of the gateways to the city, is threatened because of the possible encroachment by Eastern Maine Medical Center, located on the opposite side of State Street.
Word late last year that the hospital was considering razing two homes it owns on State Street to make way for parking led to a public outcry that resulted in the designation of one of the houses, the Wing Estate at 412 State St., as a local historic landmark.
The Wing Estate, nearly two centuries old, is one of Bangor’ s few remaining Gothic Revival-style houses.
The other targeted structure, the 1932 Robinson House, has since been sold to a local businessman who is working to refurbish it.
The volunteers, led by Bangor architectural historian Sara Martin, include members of the city’ s historic preservation commission, city employees, museum and library staff, and other interested residents.
Facing an Aug. 30 deadline, the volunteers will conduct field research during the next few weeks, working in pairs or as individuals. Martin said the survey will cover nearly 90 homes, all at least 50 years old.
The survey is being funded with a $6,525 grant, which will be matched by at least $4,350 in in-kind services, according to Jeremy Martin, a member of the city’ s code enforcement staff who works closely with the city’ s historic preservation commission.
The area closest to State Street contains several late 19th century and early 20th century high-style residences, primarily in the Colonial Revival style but also in the Tudor and Stick styles.
As the streets leading from State Street approach and then cross Garland Street, the houses become more modest Colonial Revival houses, mixed in with bungalows and mid-20th century homes, including ranches.
“This era of domestic architecture is underrepresented among Bangor’ s existing nine historic districts, which are primarily of [19th] century buildings from Bangor’ s heyday as one of the nation’ s primarily lumber ports,” the application notes, adding:
“The potential Upper State Street Historic District exemplifies Bangor’ s post-lumber boom wealth and demonstrates the growth of the city at its periphery, as well as the effect of the early days of the automobile on the city’ s development.”