Local developer to renovate historic Col. John Brewer home

Posted Oct. 09, 2008, at 11:45 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — Local developer Charlie Milan recently purchased a piece of the city’s history, and is planning to renovate it so it can survive into the future.

Milan purchased a historic home at 609 S. Main St., which history buffs and some locals believe was built by Col. John Brewer, the city’s founder.

“I don’t know this history,” he said Thursday, standing outside the building historians believe is around 2 centuries old. “It was going for a low price, but had no takers. I [thought] it would be a fun project.”

Few documents remain from the time when Brewer sailed up the Penobscot River in 1770 with his brother, Josiah, and sister, Mary, to settle the area around the Sedgeunkedunk Stream, but property maps of that time show John Brewer owned the land where the house sits.

An architectural historian with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission toured the house in November 2007, and estimates the house was built in the late 1700s or early 1800s, based on features within. Those include a brick oven, Federal-style moldings and a massive center chimney with two fireplaces on each floor.

While walking through the historic building, known to locals as the “Brewer House,” Milan pointed to where additions have been built on over the years.

“They had 14 different add-ons in the late 1800s, early 1900s,” he said.

Inside the original building, “there is not a bathroom or kitchen in it,” the new owner said.

Dust was stirred into the air as Milan walked through the old house, pointing out where walls and closets have been added, and to massive supports that hold up the approximately 200-year-old building.

“They’re rough-sawn timbers,” he said, pointing to a beam in the attic that extends to the basement. “Everything is pegged together with wooden pegs.”

On the second floor, over the middle section of the long building, there is a kitchen with a barrel vault, or curved, ceiling that is covered with decorative pressed tin.

‘I’d like to keep the middle section of the house and [the older] section of the house and take down the garage,” which is leaning to one side, Milan said.

The local developer usually works in partnership with his brother James Milan, to purchase old buildings, mostly condemned homes, and refurbish them.

“We’re trying to provide decent, affordable housing for people,” he said. “We probably have 32 tenants” in the Brewer area.

The home on South Main Street also comes with a back lot, which is large enough to build on, he said.

City Councilor Larry Doughty, who months ago advocated to have the building razed, said he’s pleased that Milan purchased the home.

“He likes to rehabilitate these [old] homes,” he said. “He’s just one of those type guys who’s a hell of a worker, and he’s a nice guy.”

Milan purchased the Brewer House for $43,000 and change, but will spend a pretty penny to fix it up, he said.

“I had to do it,” he said of the purchase. “It’s always been a hobby” to fix up old homes.

He added, “I’ve got myself a project here.”

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