Masonic Hall Section 106 Public Notice

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has offered the Quoddy Tides Foundation, in Eastport, Maine, a Challenge Infrastructure and Capacity Building grant (CHA-290093) to renovate a historic Masonic lodge in Eastport, Maine, as a space for exhibitions, programs, and collections storage for the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, dedicated to the history and arts of Northeastern Maine.

NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.  This public notice is issued as part of NEH’s responsibilities under 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations which implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended, 54 U.S.C. 306108.  NEH, a funding agency, is required by regulation to identify and assess the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties.  If any proposed action will have an adverse effect on historic resources, NEH works with the appropriate parties to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects.  Additionally, the Section 106 regulations require NEH to consider the views of the public on preservation issues when making final decisions that affect historic properties.

The Masonic building, located at 32 Water Street, Eastport, Maine 04631, was constructed in 1887.  It was designed by Henry Black in an Italianate style and is a 2-story brick building with stone trim. It was one of 19 buildings attributed to Black that was constructed after a fire destroyed the Eastport business district.  It is a contributing property to the Eastport Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Ref# 82000787). The 8,580 square foot building has an intact exterior. The interior has important historical elements including a grand staircase to the second floor and a =two-story high Masonic Hall meeting space that is virtually intact with an ornate tin ceiling dating to 1887 and original electric light fixtures dating to 1904. 

The proposed undertaking will preserve and repurpose the Masonic building and its annex for use by the Quoddy Tides Foundation to create a state-of-the-art collections archives and storage that will be accessible to scholars and researchers; create exhibition space; help sustain the building and program through revenue-generating activities on the first floor; create a lively streetscape and center of activity to contribute to help revitalize downtown Eastport, and assume the role of the region’s most
significant cultural institution. Some aspects of the renovation, such as stabilization of the upper floors,  occurred prior to the NEH offer and are outside the scope of the NEH supported building. Additional details can be found at https://www.tidesinstitute.org/masonic-hall-project/. 

On October 26, 2023, Kirk Mahoney, State Historic Preservation Officer for the Maine Historic Preservation Division, provided a conditioned no adverse effect. After reviewing Section 106 documentation and SHPO finding, NEH issues a determination of no adverse effect to historic properties, conditioned on the following:  

Masonry Work

1. Masonry work will be conducted by contractors who have demonstrated experience with historic properties.

2. A written statement that the mason selected for the contract, agrees to comply with the masonry treatment conditions will be sent to Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

              * Masonry cleaning will be done in accordance with the National Park Service’s Preservation Brief #1 Assessing Cleaning and Water-Repellent Treatments for Historic Masonry Buildings (see http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/briefs/briefO I .htm). All cleaning should be done with the gentlest means possible. Brief #l indicates using “very low pressure (100 psi or below), even using a garden hose, and progressing as needed to slightly higher pressure–generally no higher than 300-400 psi … “

              * Masonry repointing will be done in accordance with the National Park Service’s Preservation Brief #2 Repainting Mortar Joints in Historic Masonry Buildings (see http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/briefs/brief02.htm). If historic mortar is in good condition, it should remain.

               * A masonry test panel will be completed and photographed. The photographs of the test panel will be sent to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, for approval prior to the commencement of work.

3. The cost estimate for the masonry work will be sent to Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

4. The brick interior walls presently finished should remain finished in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines.

Windows

1. The existing wooden windows will be retained, scraped and painted, if possible. If it is not feasible to retain the wood windows, the sash light configuration of the replacement windows must match the existing wood windows (e.g. 6-over-6). If a casement window is necessary for egress in some situations, the sash light configuration will be matched so the window appears to be similar to the existing.

2. All original historic exterior and interior wood trim should be retained, scraped and painted including the window hoods and storefront.

3. Any existing storefront and other architectural elements that are proposed for replacement will be replaced in-kind; that is in the same design and materials as the existing. The open glass area of the new windows should match that of the existing windows. We request that the jambs be opened and modified as needed to accept the new window sash. All exterior and interior wood trim should be reinstalled.

4. Vinyl replacement windows are not acceptable to our office for this project. The replacement sash will be either wood or aluminum clad wood sash.

5. Any replacement sash model must include permanent exterior muntins (or “grills”), permanent or removable interior muntins, and must have shadow bars between panes at the muntins (usually referred to as true-divided light, simulated divided light, or authentic divided light models.)

6. The following companies manufacture windows that appear to meet the stipulations noted above. (Inclusion on this list does not represent an endorsement by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.) There may be additional companies that are not included on this list that manufacture products that are equivalent: [Redacted] 

If the Tides Institute & Museum of Art window wishes to use a product not on the above list that appears to meet the stipulations, a manufacturer’s cut sheet for the product in order will be sent to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission for review and approval.

Other

1. Progress drawings will be sent to Maine Historic Preservation Commission as they become available for review and approval.

2. Information sent to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission will be carbon copied to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

As required by Section 106, NEH is providing the public with information about this project, as well as an opportunity to comment on any knowledge of, or concerns with, historic properties in the proposed project area, and issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties. Comments may be submitted to the NEH by e-mail to FPO@neh.gov.  The deadline for submitting comments is January 17, 2024.

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