YARMOUTH, Maine — Formal documents, letters and pictures of notable events from the past are part of the latest list of Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Resources, which also includes school buildings, a lifesaving station, a former bank building and railroad storage sheds.
In releasing its annual list, the nonprofit group Maine Preservation has gone beyond its usual practice of including just structures. This year, the group hopes to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving documents, letters, communications and photographs depicting events of historic significance, which are stored electronically and can be retrieved and saved.
“It’s so easy to lose digital material,” Greg Paxton, executive director of Maine Preservation, said Wednesday. Valuable material that’s electronically stored can vanish through computer crashes, corruption of discs and obsolescence of those storage units. Fear of losing that material is a growing concern of preservationists.
“We’ve not figured out how to manage this material,” Paxton said. “There’s such a proliferation that nobody thinks about this material.”
Paxton noted that his Yarmouth-based organization is not in the business of archiving materials, but is emphasizing their preservation to others. The group began publicizing most endangered resources lists in 1996. Of the 105 sites that have been listed since then, 36 have been saved.
This year’s list includes Wood Island Lifesaving Station in Kittery, Timber Point Cottage in Biddeford, and Bar Mills elementary and Lincoln Street schools in Rockland. It also includes the former Hollis High Schools, one of the few masonry buildings in that southern Maine area, and the former Waterville Savings Bank, a solid, four-story structure that housed a variety of businesses after the bank occupied it between 1904 and 1939. It’s been vacant for 15 years.
Also on the list are historic railroad freight sheds in communities across the state and the former Central Fire Station in Saco.
Paxton said the preservation of such structures often prompts community revitalization and economic development in towns and cities.