Portland Co. building to be disassembled and reassembled in new location

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    PORTLAND (WGME) -- A rare project for the City of Portland will involve disassembling a historic building brick by brick and then putting it back together in a different spot.

    The iconic building at 58 Fore Street is part of the Portland Co., which dates back to the 1800s.

    "It was the first industrial complex specifically for the manufacturer of locomotives," says Deb Andrews, Portland's Historic Preservation Manager, "Then the company went on to produce many, many engine and other machines and architectural elements."

    Andrews says significant history was made at the Portland Co.

    "It was the first location where all the steps in the manufacturing process were brought together in one location," Andrews says, "And that was a really radical thing at the time and really was the precursor to Henry Ford's assembly line."

    That's why Andrews says the city council designated a particular building, the company's original pattern storehouse, as historic.

    "From a preservation perspective, it's really important that as much of it be retained as possible," says Andrews.

    As the Portland Foreside development moves forward on the eastern waterfront, Andrews says they realized the building would need to be relocated to another part of the site.

    "In part because the city intends to build a connector road linking Thames Street up to Fore Street," says Andrews, "And the grade of that road would put building 12 down in a hollow."

    Moving it in one piece, however, would be too tricky considering its condition.

    "There were concerns that it could make the move," Andrews says, "So Consigli recommended that the building be thoroughly documented with photography, measured drawings, every type of technology available, then disassembled and then reconstructed in its new place."

    Andrews has never seen this disassembling method done in Portland, but thinks it's worth the efforts to preserve a piece of Portland's history.

    "Because relatively few of the remaining buildings will be preserved, to lose that very important structure and gateway structure really would have diminished our understanding of the complex and appreciation for it," Andrews says.

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