June 18, 2018
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Castine eyes repairs to Emerson Hall

The 2002 Castine town report featured a photo of Emerson Hall in honor of the building's 100th anniversary. Town officials have authorized an architural survey of the building to identify areas that need repair and renovation.
By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

CASTINE, Maine — Town officials have hired an architect to conduct an assessment of Emerson Hall in an effort to determine what repairs might be necessary for the 110-year-old building to continue serving as town hall.

There are obvious signs both inside and outside the building, according to Town Manager Dale Abernethy, including peeling plaster, exterior woodwork that has dried out and aluminum siding that could be masking other deterioration. Although the repairs will need to be made, Abernethy said, the building is not in immediate danger.

“There’s nothing that reached the critical stage,” Abernethy said Wednesday.

The architectural survey will help to identify problem areas before they get to that point, he said.

“We’ve retained an architect to evaluate the building, identify all of its needs and then we’ll prioritize them,’’ he said.

The firm of Lewis and Malm of Bucksport will conduct the survey.

The town has done some upgrades on the building in recent years, including major work in 2007. The two-and-a-half story building has a combination brick and stone foundation, but never had a proper floor in the basement, Abernethy said. In 2007, the town excavated the basement, installed drainage and a reinforced concrete floor. That project also included installation of a new heating system for the building and a new elevator that services the second floor auditorium.

Abernethy said that town officials knew at that time they would need to do additional work to the building.

“We’ve known for the 11 or 12 years I’ve been here that there were lots of things needed all through the building,” he said. “We’ve tried to put money aside in a reserve account each year for that.”

The budget for this year was set at the annual town meeting last weekend, Abernethy noted. With this year’s contribution, the reserve fund for Emerson Hall contains $130,000.

“I have a feeling the repairs will exceed the money that’s available,” he said, adding that he did not anticipate that any work would be done this year, although the architects will conduct the survey this spring.

Once that report is in hand, it will be reviewed by members of an Emerson Hall committee, he said. The selectmen likely will bring a funding recommendation to voters at a future town meeting, he said.

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