Peek Inside This Historic Harlow St. Office Building That’s Up For Sale
One of my favorite old buildings in Bangor has got to be the Morse Mill Office Building, which sits across from the Kenduskeag Stream at 455 Harlow St.
The outside is architecturally beautiful.
I've always thought that the way in which it's situated, nestled into the rock wall that borders the back of the building, is both charming and interesting. I've often wondered what the inside of such a building looked like.
Recently, I drove by and noticed that the building had a real estate sign hanging on the side of it...
...so I figured it was now or never.
I found the owner of the building, Jean Deighan, on Facebook and saw that she had just posted on her page, that she was, indeed, getting ready to sell.
"It is time to pass the stewardship of this lovely building on to a new generation. The property is sited on approximately 2.5 acres and includes 800 feet along the Kenduskeag Stream...The building is on grade on both the first and second floors. The first floor boasts two magnificent fireplaces, original stained glass windows, and fine finishes. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a signature building."
I inquired if it would be possible to take a peek inside and learn a little bit more about this sweet structure before it was sold. Much to my delight, my request was granted, and my curiosity has now been satisfied.
Here is what I found out:
Jean Deighan, along with her husband Glen Porter bought the building in 2003.
Deighan said the Morse & Company Office Building was constructed in 1895 and was the main building in a collection of buildings around Bagnor, all of them part of the Morse & Company Mill.
Deighan said Morse & Company had specialized in the craftsmanship of wooden banisters, stairs, mantels, and blinds.
Morse & Company had also been a major employer for the City back in the days of the booming lumber industry.
Now, only 2 buildings remain from the group, the Morse & Company Office Building and the green apartment that sits across the street from it.
"The original architect was Wilfred E. Mansur, who did a lot of the buildings in Bangor, particularly after the 1911 fire. This predated it...He did this for the Morse Mill, which started in 1830 and went over 100 years in Bangor. It was a big, big enterprise."
"They actually blasted out the ledge to be able to slide this office building in."
She said that she and her husband purchased the building from Roger Atwater, who had used it as the headquarters for his company, Leighton Building Machines. Atwater was looking to downsize, so they jumped at the opportunity to own such a charming piece of Bangor history.
"This is just such a sweet building and in a very interesting location. Although it is right on the road, there's all this back area that is lovely."
The couple took great care in restoring the building, as it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"We worked with David Lloyd who owns Archetype Architects in Portland. And he is a very well-regarded architect down there and he did a fantastic job."
"I love the transitional architecture on the first floor, transitioning from Victorian to Craftsman style."
Deighan said that the building served as a sort of showroom, for Morse & Company mill to feature some of their best work.
"There are three magnificent fireplaces...they are among my favorites."
"There is a wall bench that has an oval window in it..."
Deighan and her husband did do some updates to the second-floor office space, with the help of their architect.
"The fact that the entire second floor, which is also on grade, has no bearing walls...it's held together by three sets of double beams with trusses under them..."
"...makes the whole thing have like a train station effect when you look up, and you can see that there's a Clerestory that runs the length of the building, it's a real architectural gem. It really is."
Deighan ended up using the building as an office, working as an investment advisor and wealth manager. She ended up selling her business to her colleagues, and they have since outgrown the building, thanks to success, and are now at 82 Colombia St, as a rebranded company called Birchbrook.
For many years, Deighan's name was on the side of the building. The name was removed last June when the company rebranded.
She says the building has the potential for many different uses.
"This building is Downtown Development District zoned, so it could be anything! It could be a professional office. It's turnkey for that. It could be a residence. It could be an art gallery...bookstore...a restaurant."
"I just hope we get a really good steward; someone who cares about the building, someone who'll keep the grounds up. Keeping up the grounds is part of our view of how we think life should be lived; we like to see things grow. "
"We like to see people prosper. We like to see things do well. We'd like to see Bangor do well. We'd like to be a part of that effort. I hope whoever gets this building, has that same hope."
To check out more information about the property, you can click here to view the listing.
Hopefully, whoever does end up buying it, is able to maintain the building and grounds and preserve the beauty of this downtown Bangor gem.