PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has its share of old clapboard-sided Colonial homes and august brick buildings, which are a nice attraction for the tourists but pose a challenge for the property owners tasked with preserving the historic structures.
A trade show dedicated to the restoration and preservation of old buildings is set to begin this weekend in Portland.
The Old House Trade Show is the only trade show of its kind in Maine and hasn’t taken place since 2007, according to Hilary Bassett, executive director of Greater Portland Landmarks, the nonprofit group organizing the event.
The organization took a few years off from hosting the event, but it’s back by popular demand, Bassett said.
Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the country, with 70 percent of buildings being at least 50 years old, Bassett said Tuesday.
“So there’s a lot of older buildings in Maine, and a lot of people want to keep up their older buildings,” Bassett said. “This show is the only show in Maine that addresses the specific questions and concerns of people that own older buildings.”
The event will feature 54 exhibitors, including specialists in restoration; people who make weathervanes, historic windows and old-fashioned clapboards; people who specialize in plaster work; and general contractors who deal with older buildings.
“This is a specialized group of people, and they have a lot of interest in reaching out to people that have these specific needs, like how do you fix plaster in your older building, or historic fireplaces or chimneys,” Bassett said. “These are questions that a lot of homeowners have, and what we’re trying to do is bring property owners together with the tradespeople that have the answers to their questions.”
One of those tradespeople will be Cecil Gallagher, manager of the Ward Clapboard Mill in Patten, which manufactures vertical grain clapboards using the same methods used 150 years ago.
Gallagher said business has been picking up since the economy went sour, but the ability to discuss authentic clapboard siding with homeowners and other restoration specialists is “the key.”
“I actually manufacture this product: sell it, saw it, plane it, right from the stump to the house,” Gallagher said. Attending trade shows such as this one is “very important because [compared with] talking with somebody on the phone or on the computer … talking face-to-face is more personal by far and usually the results are pretty doggone good.”
Visitors to the show will also be able to attend a series of 45-minute workshops on topics such as historic window maintenance techniques, choosing historic paint colors for period homes, how to spot signs of masonry deterioration, improving the energy efficiency of older homes, and how to fund historic renovations with financing tools from Efficiency Maine.
This year’s show will have a special emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency, Bassett said.
The 2007 show attracted 1,500 people, and Bassett hopes to exceed that number this year.
The show runs Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets, which are good for both days, are $10 for Greater Portland Landmarks members and $12 for nonmembers. For more information and for online ticket sales, visit www.portlandlandmarks.org.