The Gothic House
387 Spring Street, Portland
In 1967 plans were developed to alter a neighborhood street in the Spring Street Arterial. The plan, known as the Patterns for Progress, was developed by Victor Gruen. In the plan, Spring Street east of High Street was widened and extended to a truncated Middle Street. Initial plans to build the Spring Street Arterial all the way to Franklin Arterial were not completed. Reducing pedestrian access along the roadway was desired to improve fast and unobstructed auto roads. The plan necessitated the removal of many buildings on both sides of the planned roadway, including the John J Brown House (1845) at 86 Spring Street, the site of the current Holiday Inn.
The John J Brown House is a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture by architect Henry Rowe in the mode of popular revivalist Andrew Jackson Downing. The dwelling features a steep central gable with carved vergeboards, a projecting second floor oriel window and a Tudor-arched porch. Its wood sheathing is cut to simulate masonry. It is one of the few surviving examples of Irish-born Henry Rowe.
While protesting the demolition of large numbers of historic properties necessitated by the Gruen plan, Greater Portland Landmarks organized to save the John J Brown House in 1971. The developers of the Holiday Inn gave the building to Landmarks. Landmark's had the dwelling lifted from its foundation at 87 Spring Street and moved it to its current location at 387 Spring Street. Landmarks undertook the project when no other group or individual came up with a suitable plan. Because of the width of the streets, the house was moved down the Commercial Street and back up Danforth Street to Spring Street. The house was then sold for the cost of the move to Mrs. Austin Lamont.
- Portland Moves "Gothic House," Noted Landmark The Lewiston Daily Sun Archives
- John J. Brown House, Portland, 1971 mainememory.net
- Gothic House, Portland, ca. 1920 mainememory.net
- The Gothic House wikipedia.org
What You Can Do
- Download our self-guided walking tour of the Western Promenade, and walk by the Gothic House on Spring Street
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