University of Southern Maine

Deering Farmhouse c.1807 | 23 Brighton Avenue, Portland

Significance

This house, built in 1807, is the last remaining structure of the more than 200-acre James Deering Estate (1803) and is believed to be the last Federal period farmhouse within the City of Portland. James Deering, known as the, “merchant prince of Portland,” was one of the original founders of the Atlantic & St. Lawrence Railroad. Six acres of his estate were purchased by Portland Junior College in 1947; unfortunately, the Deering mansion and barn were demolished. Upon the college’s merger with University of Southern Maine, the house became the Alumni Office.

Threat

While the building is in good condition, it was last extensively renovated in the 1970s and is currently vacant. The University's 2019 campus master plan proposes to use the site as the location for a new graduate school and would require relocation or demolition of the farmhouse. The building was recently determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but has no current local protection from demolition or alterations.

Opportunity

The key location of the farmhouse on the campus represents an opportunity for continued use for education or administration purposes. Now that the building has been determined eligible for the National Register, historic rehabilitation tax credits can be used for upgrades. Landmarks looks forward to working with the University of Southern Maine to explore practical options for rehabilitation and reuse.

Gorham Academy c.1806 | School Street, Gorham

Significance

Gorham Academy is one of the first six academies incorporated in what was then the District of Maine by the General Court of Massachusetts. Designed in 1806 by Samuel Elder in the Federal style it quickly became a symbol of pride in the community, and today it is a focal point on the University of Southern Maine Gorham Campus. The character-defining features of the building are still intact, including the classically detailed portico and pediment, four Doric columns supporting a second floor balcony, and fanlight above the central second-floor door. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Threat

Although the 213-year-old building houses studios for the Art Department, it is plagued by deferred maintenance. The building is not in a prominent location on campus and is easily overlooked -- as evidenced by an overwhelming addition proposed for the rear in the 2019 University of Southern Maine Campus Master Plan.

Opportunity

The Gorham Academy is a significant building in the town of Gorham. As it is currently on the National Register of Historic Places, tax credits could be used to offset the cost of rehabilitation. We are pleased to learn that USM has initiated a planning process looking at the rehabilitation needs of the building; Landmarks looks forward to working with the Gorham community and the University of Southern Maine to ensure this important community landmark lives long into the future.