December 18, 2017
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Federal style house plan from The Country Builder’s Assistant, 1797

Union Historical Society will meet at the Old Town House on Town House Road, just off Union Common, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 1. Les Fossel, widely known as “the Old House man”, will give an illustrated presentation on 18th and early 19th century builders’ plan books and their widespread use to incorporate construction elements of classical buildings into early American vernacular architecture.

In Union, young house-wright Ebenezer Alden used a builder’s plan book to include both Colonial and Federal styling in his 1797 home. A bedroom renovation by the current owners of the house used a pattern from the 1797 book The Country Builder’s Assistant by the New England architect Asher Benjamin. This was the first pattern book by an American architect, and it adapted British designs for house styles, moldings and other details for American builders with superb drawings and practical advice. Benjamin wrote seven builders’ plan book in his lifetime.

Les Fossel operates Restoration Resources, the premier historic house restoration company in Maine, founded in 1975. His work has been featured in Colonial Homes, Down East Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Early American Homes. Beginning at the University of Southern Maine, he’s taught over 2,000 Maine Realtors. He has taught his “Field Course in Old Houses” through adult education since 1989. A student from his last class said “Exceptionally well put together to be informative and maintain interest.” He’s given programs to hundreds of local, state and national groups. He’s received numerous awards, including: A 2008 Honor Award for “Long term commitment to providing broad ranging preservation education”, a 2007 Maine Preservation for “Outstanding contribution to the Board of Trustees as Vice President” and a 2001 Honor Award for “Excellence in restoration carpentry and the building preservation trades”.

Les is also President of the DaPonte String Quartet, Treasurer of the Deck House School, and Treasurer of the Wiscasset & Quebec Railroad. He recently served in the Maine Legislature on a variety of committees including Judiciary and Health & Human Services.

Les lives in a 1810 Cape in Alna with 3 barns and 40 acres of fields. His wife Merry’s father, Chester Nash, wrote a history of Union in the 1970s.

After the meeting refreshments will be served by hosts Anita and Travis Brown. All meetings of Union Historical Society are free and open to the public. Union Historical Society owns and maintains the Robbins House on Union Common, the Cobb’s Ledge historic site on Town House Road, and the Old Town House, also located on Town House Road and available to rent for functions. Membership is $5.00 per year. For more information, call 785-5444 and leave a message, or visit