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Updated: March 30, 2023

Team behind Brunswick's Lemont Block renovation receives Maine Preservation award

Courtesy / Dave Clough Barba + Wheelock Architecture received a 2023 Maine Preservation Honor Award for its contribution to the Lemont Block project in Brunswick. 

The team behind the resurrection of the historic Lemont Block in Brunswick received a 2023 Maine Preservation Honor Award for its work. 

Nancy Barba and Tim Morrison of Barba + Wheelock headed up project design with Mike Cunningham, of Lincoln/Haney Engineering Associates, serving as the structural engineer. The late Peter Warren and his team at Freeport-based Warren Construction led construction; Warren passed away before completion of the project. The owners of the building are Aaron Turkel and Cleo Vauban.

The four-story Lemont Block building, at the corner of Pleasant and Main streets, was built in 1870 for the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal order established during the Civil War. According to the Pejepscot Historical Society, Lemont Hall served as the venue for many speeches and events in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Last September, Turkel and Vauban, owners of the Lemont Block, unveiled the finished project, which featured luxury apartments and the reopening of Lemont Hall, with a capacity of 299 people. It was the first time in generations that the hall has been open for weddings, public gatherings and lectures. 

"We've always thought the Lemont Block was special, and enough hard-working people agreed with us to get this momentous job done,” Aaron Turkel said in September, when the project opened. “It makes us so proud to bring back a cornerstone of Brunswick.”

Courtesy / Aaron Turkel
Aaron Turkel and Cleo Vauban led the rebirth of Brunswick's historic Lemont Block.





Portland-based Barba + Wheelock has been cited for its work on the three-year restoration project.  

Barba + Wheelock’s team revived the mixed-use property that includes retail space, residential units, and an event venue in the former great hall

Balancing preservation with modern updates

Barba + Wheelock provided construction oversight and was also instrumental in making the project financially viable, taking advantage of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program, which is administered by the National Park Service.

The design improves accessibility and addresses modern code requirements without destroying the building’s 19th-century character, the firm said.

Courtesy / Barba + Wheelock Architecture
One of the apartment units in the Lemont Block.

“We’re extremely proud of our involvement in the restoration of the Lemont Block as a cornerstone of the Brunswick Commercial National Register Historic District,” said Nancy Barba, one of the firm’s principals.

She noted that the firm worked collaboratively with area experts to restore windows, reconstruct the roof, restore decorative plasterwork and period stenciling and restore Lemont Hall’s tin ceiling.

At the same time, the design incorporated safety necessities including sprinklers, fire alarms, new bathrooms, emergency egress and an elevator.

The awards

Courtesy / Barba + Wheelock Architecture
The Lemont Block as it looked in earlier days.

Maine Preservation Honor Awards were founded in 1998 to recognize historic preservation successes across Maine and the people that make them happen.

Maine Preservation cited the efforts of the developers, Turkel and Vauban in bringing together a team on the project. 

"Representing a new generation of Mainers, they stepped up to return the Lemont Block as a working commercial, residential, and community space, assembling a creative team of local architects, engineers, lenders, and contractors," Maine Preservation said

"[Turkel and Vauban] purchased the building in 2019, when only the three storefronts on the first floor were occupied. Because of building code issues, the upper floors of the building sat vacant for decades, allowing deferred maintenance and roof leaks to multiply. The scope of work included maintaining the first-floor storefronts, rehabilitating Lemont Hall as an event space, and converting spaces on the second, third, and fourth floors into five residential units."

Tara Kelly, executive director of Yarmouth-based Maine Preservation, recognized the winners’ commitment to historical preservation even in the midst of the unprecedented challenges of the last few years. 

“These dedicated professionals, determined organizations, and passionate individuals pushed through to make a lasting impact on the state’s historic built environment,” said Kelly.

The award was presented at a ceremony on March 22 at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.

Here's a link to the other awards. 

Another building restoration cited was the Hammond, a Bangor project led by Dash Davidson, who is now refurbishing the Spinning Mill in Skowhegan

This is the second year in a row that Barba + Wheelock has won a Maine Preservation Honor Award, and the 11th time the firm has received the award overall. In 2022, the firm was recognized for its work on the Broad Bay Congregational Church in Waldoboro.

In September 2022, the Lemont Block project won a historic preservation award from Brunswick Downtown Association.

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