Nineteen buildings along East Main Street have been recognized as the Dover-Foxcroft Historic Shopping District, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The designation of downtown Dover-Foxcroft comes with benefits for properties in the district, such as access to grant opportunities, federal tax incentives for renovation projects, and recognition for the community, which which has the potential to attract more people and businesses to the region. .
Fifty-six other buildings and archaeological sites in Piscataquis County are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but this is the first downtown commercial historic district to receive such a designation in the county, Michael Goebel-Bain , the national registry and survey coordinator for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, said.
“The hope is that the neighborhood’s establishment means that several historic buildings could now look more attractive to investors who want to buy them,” said Patrick Myers, executive director of the Center Theater for the Performing Arts. “For the current owners, they may want to renovate them and make them again useful and vibrant parts of the community. “
Myers took charge of the project about a year ago when he began exploring funding opportunities for the theater. This led him to work closely with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and a consultant to prepare the necessary research and documentation that would eventually allow the district to be listed on the National Register.
After Myers got city approval and briefed landowners and local organizations, he coordinated public meetings and gave people the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the process.
“There were certainly people who were concerned that if there was a historic shopping district in town, that all of a sudden the owners wouldn’t be able to do what they wanted with their buildings,” Myers said.
Sometimes the designation confuses landowners, Goebel-Bain said.
“To a certain extent, that doesn’t really have to change the way these owners approach their building, maintain it and make modifications to it,” he said.
If the Center Theater, for example, received federal funding, it would have to follow U.S. Department of the Interior standards for how to treat a historic building, Goebel-Bain said. Another building in the district not receiving federal funding would not need state or federal approval if its owners planned to make changes. The owner would get a building permit from the local code enforcement agent to replace windows or make other improvements.
Once the owners of the proposed neighborhood got the hang of it, they lent their support, Myers said.
Part of Goebel-Bain’s job was to formally notify landowners in the proposed district. If more than half oppose it, the district cannot be entered in the national register. In Dover-Foxcroft, he received no objections.
The neighborhood spans just over 4 acres in downtown Dover-Foxcroft. The buildings – including the Center Theater, JJ Newberry & Company Building, Masonic Hall, Oak’s Drug Store, and others – are predominantly multi-story and wood-frame, according to a registration form provided by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
“The architectural styles of the neighborhood include examples of Greek Revival, Italian, Second Empire, early 20th century commercial and Art Deco styles. … This dense historic commercial area retains significant integrity, ”indicates the registration form.
Goebel-Bain noted a result of the designation of the historic district involving the Observer’s building. The building, which once housed the Piscataquis Observer and now the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society, is listed both as an Individual Historic Site and as part of the District on the National Register.
City Manager Jack Clukey said the designation is of great benefit to landowners in the area.
“What it will do is provide incentives for properties in the district to potentially become eligible for certain grants or tax credits,” he said. “It provides resources to these landowners to carry out improvements and projects. “
Listings also tend to instill local pride among residents and are sometimes used to promote tourism and attract new businesses to an area.
“Every time we have properties listed on the registry, it encourages people to see them,” Clukey said. “We are becoming a destination to visit. “