PHOTO: The River House in Norridgewock, renovated into living space by Amanda Lamb, received an Honor Award from Maine Preservation March 22. (Maine Preservation photo)
YARMOUTH – The River House in Norridgewock is one of 10 properties recognized for excellence in historic preservation with an Honor Award by Maine Preservation on March 22.
The building along the east bank of the Sandy , at the French Rips, is a former powerhouse that helped provide electricity for the town at the turn of the 20th century. It was designed by local architecture and engineering firm Snow & Humphreys and built by Hall & Reed, completed in 1904. At the time, the site included a powerhouse, along with a 300-foot dam, intake canal, and open-flume intake structure.
The dam was removed about 20 years ago, and the powerhouse, no longer in use, became neglected and vandalized.
Amanda Lamb bought the building in 2017 to renovate into a home. Much work was required to make the 1,400 square-foot building livable, a project that took five years. The original wood floors had been irredeemably damaged by the removal of the turbine and other heavy equipment, and the interior walls were covered in peeling lead paint, according to Maine Preservation. Lamb had to add a plumbing and heating system, which required drilling through three feet of granite foundation, as well as restore all nine windows.
She also had to remove the 14-ton generator that occupied nearly a quarter of the space.
Lamb tackled a lot of the work herself, with the help of talented friends and local professionals, including plumber and electrician James Pollis.
The final task was finding entry doors – the originals were lost to the April 1, 1987, flood. Lamb salvaged replacements from a mill in Biddeford.
After navigating town zoning and permit issues, she now counts the Norridgewock Planning Board, town manager and code enforcement officer among the allies who made the project possible, Maine Preservation said. Lamb also allows river access for fishing, boating, and swimming.
Lamb said she hopes the recognition from the award will embolden others to renovate forgotten industrial buildings, which also benefits Maine communities.
Since 1998, Maine Preservation has celebrated excellence in historic preservation, focusing on how rehabilitation historic property can transform a community, and also acknowledging the people who make the projects possible.
This year’s honorees also included Abraham Robinson Block in Portland, Stevens Square Community Center in Portland, The Hammond in Bangor, The Lemont Block in Brunswick, Marguerite Emerson House in Portland, Building 12 in Portland, Founders Hall in Pittsfield, Freeport Historical Society, Isle au Haut Lighthouse, and Judy Barrington of Bath.
“Amidst the unprecedented challenges of the last few years, the stewards of Maine’s past have persisted,” said Tara Kelly, Maine Preservation executive director. “These dedicated professionals, determined organizations, and passionate individuals pushed through to make a lasting impact on the state’s historic built environment. We honor those efforts in our historic urban cores and across our rural landscapes and picturesque coastline.”
For more on all this year’s award-winners, visit mainepreservation.org.