he former Engine Company No.8 Firehouse sits at 536 Deering Avenue at Woodford’s Corner in the Deering neighborhood of Portland. Currently the site of Big Sky Bread Company, this building was built to house Engine No. 8 in 1907 and operated as a firehouse until 1967. The Engine Company No. Eight Firehouse played an important role in the Portland Fire Department. In 1916, it was the first station in Portland to put a motorized fire truck into service. The building was the headquarters for the City’s District Two Fire Chief from 1909 until its closure. Engine Company No. Eight remained an active fire department company at 536 Deering Avenue until 1967 when the engine company was relocated, along with the District Chief’s offices, to North Deering.
After the engine company relocated to North Deering in 1967, the City of Portland leased the unoccupied firehouse to the Children’s Theatre of Maine in 1971 for a period of five years at the cost of one dollar. This change of use necessitated some interior modifications, such as the removal of the fire pole and the addition of a metal fire escape. Following the Theatre’s leasing period, the firehouse was used by the city for storage but remained vacant until a private owner bought the building in 1994. Big Sky Bread Company moved into the space the same year.
536 Deering 1912
Maine Historical Society Image
617-619 Forest Avenue
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Store, 1915, sits at the corner of Arlington Place, a short dead end residential street, known in the late 19th century as Belmont Place In 1917, William Oxnard sold the lot with buildings to Mina and Abbie Ambrose. Abbie Ambrose was the widow of Edward Ambrose, a Readfield attorney who died in 1915. Mina their daughter worked as a high school teacher and later was the assistant principal of Cape Elizabeth high School. The family does not appear to have lived in the building, rather using it as an investment property.
The shop front of the three-story building at 617 Forest Avenue was first occupied by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, a national grocery chain later known as the A&P. The company was founded in 1859 in New York City by George Gilman. In 1915 the company had 1600 stores nationwide. The upper portion of the building was occupied by two five-room apartments that were rented for $35/month in 1924 .
The building was sold by the Ambroses in 1923 to Joseph Kalil (1886-1959) of Portland. Joseph immigrated to Portland in 1904 from Lebanon, then part of Syria. Joseph and his wife Ida lived upstairs at 617 Forest Avenue and Joseph’s dry goods store was in the storefront at 619 Forest Avenue for a few years before he became a travelling salesman. Kalil, was a member of the Masonic Lodge, treasurer of the Men’s American Lebanese Club. He attended the nearby Trinity Episcopal Church and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
The shopfront was occupied by C.F. Cook and Sons, a meat and provisions dealer in the 1930s-1950s.
The building is a three story brick structure with a flat roof. The façade features a projecting two-story bay. The storefront, originally a central entrance flanked by two storefront windows is now a recessed side entry with one large store front window with two large panes of glass over a recessed wood panel base. The sec- ond floor unit is now leased as office space. While the storefront and upper story entrances have been altered the building retains several character defining details including the bay details, the projecting cornice and modillions, and the unique temple framed window on the Arlington Place façade. These details and the building form and massing contribute to the character of Woodfords Corner and the Forest Avenue corridor.
617-619 Forest Avenue - 1924
From the City of Portland Collection of the 1924 Tax Photos on Maine Memory Network
533 Forest Ave
Contractor Frank A. Rumery is thought to have designed the buildings at 533, 525, and 517 Forest Avenue as a group, along with a second automobile dealership complex slightly further south on Forest Avenue. These projects were part of a plan to redevelop the former Ricker estate into apartments, a filling station, car dealerships with frontage on Forest Avenue, plans which included a shared power plant. The Ricker Mansion was built in 1855 for Joseph S. Ricker, a tanner who also served as director of the street’s railroad system. The mansion was one of several large estates just outside the city along the less-developed Forest Avenue and boasted a “grapery” and greenhouses on its extensive grounds. The Ku Klux Klan’s Portland chapter bought the property in 1923 and maintained it as a meeting and event space until the house burned down in the later 1920s. Redevelopment of the lot occurred between 1927-30 and the area was renamed Ricker Park.
Rumery was already well-known at this time for his active involvement in many development projects along Forest Avenue and was also the contractor for the Ricker Park apartments. John P. Thomas, the Portland-based architect who would design the Stevens Avenue Armory at 772 Stevens Avenue in 1940, was commissioned to address the design of the new apartment buildings the lot.
533 Forest Ave
Ok, this isn’t a historic image but a contemporary close-up on this 1920’s detail.
331 Forest Avenue
Noted Portland architects John Calvin Stevens and his son John Howard Stevens designed the building at 331-337 Forest Avenue for Aurelius Stone Hinds in 1920. Hinds worked for the apothecary of H. H. Hay & Company in downtown Portland until 1864. While running a drugstore of his own on the
peninsula, Hinds perfected the formula for his world famous Honey and Almond Cream. He established A. S. Hinds Company in 1875, and began producing and selling his skincare products from the
purpose-built laboratory space on Forest Avenue in 1920.
Hinds’ Honey and Almond Cream was an extremely successful product, both domestically and
internationally, and a branch laboratory was established in Montreal, Canada. In 1906, an advertising department was formed to handle marketing of the cream (Fig. 1). Although the company was acquired in 1907 by the Manhattan-based Lehn & Fink, who had brought Lysol from Germany to the United States market in 1890, the A. S. Hinds Company continued to operate independently for a number of years.
The A. S. Hinds Laboratory Building is a four story brick structure built in the Beaux Arts Revival and Commercial styles. The building’s flat roof has a subtle parapet detail, the lines of which are highlighted by cast stone ornamentation. The heavy cornice features prominent brackets and dentils. Patterned brick ornamentation and small cast stone medallions grace the façade. Blueprints drawn by John Calvin Stevens are held in the collections at the Maine Historical Society in Portland (Fig. 2).
The laboratory occupied the upper floors of the building, while the first and second levels were reserved for retail and office use. In 1926, the A. S. Hinds Laboratory was no longer located in this building;
operations had moved to Lehn & Fink plants in New Jersey. A wholesale druggist and the Marmon Company Autos automobile dealership operated at 331-337 Forest Avenue that same year. A number of automobile-related businesses, such as Firestone Tire & Rubber Company and Gemmer Motors
Company, were tenants of the building from 1926 through 1932. From this point the building’s
commercial use shifted towards suppliers, including the Portland Pipe Line Company, and warehouse storage.
In 1926, three large show windows were installed to accommodate the automobile dealerships, and alterations were undertaken in a previously added private garage space to convert the building from its former manufacturing layout to retail and warehouse space. These alterations were designed by John Calvin Stevens and John Howard Stevens and were overseen by local contractor Frank A. Rumery, who would go on to design an automobile dealership at 517-533 Forest Avenue in 1927-30. A freight
elevator was installed in 1930; by 1946, the main occupant was Reliable Furniture and the third floor was remodeled in 1955 to meet their needs as a used furniture retailer. The building served as a
Discount Book Outlet in 1993, after it had lain vacant for two years. It currently contains 70 residential units as Bayview Court and maintains the first floor as retail space.
Photo by Todd Cavelry
331 Forest Avenue - Ad
This is an ad for the cream that the Factory at 331 Forest Avenue was built to manufacture.