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August 19, 2020

Mother's caring spirit spurs Shaw Brothers Construction gift to Maine Med expansion project

A rendering of a shade-speckled walk in front of a modern building, with boulders and native plants in between and a sign that says Sally Shaw Causeway gifted by Shaw Brothers Construction Courtesy / Maine Medical Center The Sally Shaw Causeway will front the new building at Maine Medical Center that will break ground this fall on lower Congress Street in place of the parking garage.

Sally Shaw raised nine kids while helping run a Gorham farm, but was never too busy to make room for another place at the family table.

Frequently, friends who needed a home for a few days, or a few months, found a place at the Shaw's house. "We had a big table," her son, Dan Shaw told Mainebiz Wednesday. "And my mother was a very good, caring person."

Sally Shaw's care and commitment for her community will be memorialized with a $1 million commitment to Maine Medical Center by Dan and his brother, Jon, founders of Shaw Brothers Construction, in Gorham. In return, the causeway planned for the new Congress Street Tower at the hospital will be named the Sally Shaw Causeway.

"We wanted to give back to the community," Dan Shaw said. "What better way to give back than this?"

The tower and causeway will replace the six-story parking garage that looms over lower Congress Street and also is a visible landmark to those driving through the city on Interstate 295. The garage is being torn down this week, and the new building and hospital entrance, expected to be completed in 2023, will transform the area around it.

When the hospial announced the construction project in 2016, it said the need to replace the 1,200-space garage created an opportunity to reorient the hospital’s main entrance to Congress Street from Bramhall Street, which is a largely residential area of the West End neighborhood. 

Shaw said that transformation, and what it will mean to the neighborhood and the city, will also be part of his mother's legacy.

"That old parking garage is an eyesore," Shaw said. His mother, who died in 2010, would've loved what's replacing it, he said.

In some ways, the causeway is an extension of that big table at the home where Sally and Dewayn Shaw raised nine kids and anyone else who needed a place to land.

"The Sally Shaw Causeway is designed to be a welcoming space for the approximately 24,000 patients and families who are expected to pass through the entrance to MMC’s new Congress Street Tower each year," the hospital said in a news release announcing the gift this week.

Sally Shaw loved to garden, and her sons were impressed with the plans for a tree-lined sloping path that will include native plants and boulders, and natural seating, so those spending time at the hospital can get some fresh air and nature therapy. The hospital calls it "an inviting gateway to MMC’s vibrant Congress Street neighborhood."

The hospital chose to honor the memory of Sally Shaw with the natural setting because of her love of gardening, and the feel and smell of soil, the release said. "Sally Shaw was known to can vegetables and share perennials with her family and friends, even as she raised nine children on a farm in Gorham," it said.

Jon and Dan Shaw said in the release, "We believe that The Sally Shaw Causeway will serve as a living testament to her love for family, gardening and community."

Sally Shaw also loved Maine Medical Center, particulary its dedication to the community that depends on it, her sons said. “Maine Medical Center has been there for our employees, our families and for anyone who needs quality medical care,” Jon Shaw said.

An architects rendering of a city street with old residential homes on the left and a new modern building on the right
Courtesy / Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center's Congress Street Tower will replace the parking garage on lower Congress Street.

Groundbreaking to be this fall

Maine Medical Center plans to break ground on the $543 million Congress Street Tower and Sally Shaw Causeway this fall.

The patient care tower will add five floors of clinical services, including 64 patient rooms with universal beds and 19 procedure rooms. It will also be the new home of cardiovascular care at MMC.

"This vision for patient-centered care that serves Maine’s most complex cases in a state-of-the-art setting resonated with Shaw Brothers Construction and their desire to see all Mainers receive the care they require," the release said.

The Congress Street Tower expansion project was unanimously approved in December 2018 by the Portland Planning Board as part of the third site plan application under MMC’s $534 million expansion and modernization project.

The entire project will add 128 private rooms, add 19 procedure rooms for surgeries and other complex treatments, and provide additional parking for patients, visitors and staff. Also under construction is a new medical office building in Scarborough, that will allow MMC and Maine Medical Partners to further develop ambulatory care practices, the hospital said.

“Jon and Dan are incredibly generous people who are deeply committed to this community," said MMC CEO and MaineHealth President Richard Petersen in the release. "We’re exceptionally grateful for the support they have shown over the years that has helped lay the groundwork for environments of care that improve the health of people throughout Maine and New Hampshire."

MMC will also name a new road on the Scarborough campus "in recognition for the service provided over the years by Shaw Brothers Construction on Maine Medical Center campuses," the release said. Shaw Brothers Way will lead patients to new medical office building currently under construction that will house neurology, neurosurgery and vascular surgery. It's on schedule for completion early next year.

Shaw Brothers has done business with Maine Medical Center for close to 40 years, Dan Shaw said. 'I can't think of what the first project is, but we go back a long time," he said.

That includes the current project, which the company received two competitively bid sub-contracts on. The subcontracts were based on safety record, pricing and local hiring, according to the hospital.

The $1 million commitment to the hospital in the biggest the construction company has made in many years of philanthropy that includes Camp Sunshine, many other causes relating to children, and two parks along the Presumpscot River in Gorham.

Shaw said that the gift is about more than just the hospital. "It's about the community, the area around it, making something beautiful, a beautiful place for people," he said.

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