Brewer’s oldest house, circa 1782, is on the market, but it’s a big fixer-upper

The oldest frame house in Brewer, built in 1782, is up for sale.
Gabor Degre | BDN
The oldest frame house in Brewer, built in 1782, is up for sale. Buy Photo
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Posted July 19, 2014, at 6:17 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — If you want to own the oldest house in the city, here’s your chance.

After a nearly four-year foreclosure process, 54 State St., believed to be the oldest standing home in Brewer, is on the market.

The 2,000-square-foot, wood-frame house is believed to have been built around 1782. It can be yours for the bargain price of $46,000, according to the listing through Bangor Real Estate.

With four bedrooms and two bathrooms, it sounds like a super deal, but there’s a hitch.

“Needs a touch of TLC,” states the listing.

“We tend to be gracious, or perhaps optimistic,” in listings, Realtor Dave Caliendo said when asked about the condition of the house.

The home is up for sale by Fannie Mae and was posted last month after the conclusion of a lengthy foreclosure process that started in 2010 because the former owner breached conditions of his mortgage from 2005, according to foreclosure documents.

During its vacancy, and perhaps long before, the building fell into disrepair. It also suffered through decades of deferred maintenance when it was occupied.

Caliendo said the building needs new plumbing and heating because of serious freeze damage. The electrical wiring also needs to be replaced. The size and age of the building means both those projects would be costly. Floors need to be redone and walls need to be patched and repainted.

“The price does reflect the condition,” he said, and repairs could be “daunting.”

However, the home is historic and the city has a vested interest in making sure it’s preserved, Brewer officials said Friday.

Capt. John Holyoke built the house, according to a plaque on a stone in the front yard. Born in Boston in 1743, Holyoke likely earned the captain tag through his role in a militia. He moved to Bangor with his wife, Elizabeth, whom he married in 1768.

According to David Hanna of the Brewer Historical Society, there was speculation that Holyoke participated in the Boston Tea Party, though Holyoke never confirmed that personally because participants were sworn to secrecy.

Sometime during or after the American Revolution, Holyoke moved to Brewer and bought a couple plots of land. Records indicate he worked as a cooper, building and repairing casks, barrels and other wooden receptacles.

Different sources say the house was built at different times, either 1782, 1785 or 1788. There was a log cabin on the site before the frame house being built, which could contribute to the confusion.

In 1788, the area that today includes Brewer, Holden and Orrington formed a township called Orrington. Brewer wasn’t incorporated as its own entity until 1812.

“As a city we want to make sure we do everything we can to preserve [the house] if possible,” Mayor Jerry Goss said.

The city has no money budgeted for purchasing or restoring the property, but there might be grants available to help with such an effort, according to City Manager Steve Bost. Those talks are still in the very early stages, he said.

Hanna said that, in an ideal world, he would like to see the city purchase the building because the historical society couldn’t afford it. If the city did so, it could preserve the lot as a historic park until funding becomes available to perform some sort of restoration or preservation effort.

Brewer officials also say they’d be supportive of a private entity or person willing to take on the project.

Caliendo said he has not yet heard from the city or any organizations interested in the property.

Caliendo said that Fannie Mae tends to favor nonprofits and institutions, such as municipalities or historical organizations, when offers are equal. Offers from individuals and families who plan on living in the home also are attractive.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/19/news/bangor/brewers-oldest-house-circa-1782-is-on-the-market-but-its-a-big-fixer-upper/ printed on September 21, 2014