Restoration Effort

Restoration Projects and other upgrades to Mechanics’ Hall

Mechanics’ Hall is almost 170 years old and experienced extensive use over that time from dances and social gatherings to providing educational opportunities to MCMA members and even feeding Union troops during the Civil War. The recently completed Historic Structure Report outlines the overall future restoration projects to the Hall. Please email our Superintendent, Tom Blackburn at to receive a copy of this report or discuss any restoration projects.

The restoration projects starting in 2013 include the following:

City of Portland Façade Grant, (2013-2014) administered by the city utilizing U S Department of Interior funding, provided the resources to restore the front doors; replicate iron decorative metal work; remove the ferrous stains and patch holes in the granite; paint the first floor exterior; and repair the mosaic tile in the front entry. MHPC funded 50% of this grant and a portion of the balance was funded by former long time tenant Mason Philip Smith, and Capozza Tile donated their labor and materials..

Nate Jung from Jung Restoration restored the doors to the hall as well as Encore; Grey Goose Masonry addressed the granite; Portland Restoration painted; Standfast Forge the metal work; and Capozza Tile mosaic repair. The work by Standfast Forge won a restoration award from Greater Portland Landmarks.

Congress Street Window Restoration project funded through the Certified Local Government (CLG) through the City of Portland funded by Maine Historic Preservation Commission (MHPC) These Two grants funded the restoration of all of the windows on Congress Street above the first floor and new storm windows. During the project Jung Restoration the window restoration company discovered extensive rot and degradation of the decorative bands separating the window sections.

Decorative Band Replacement, funded by the Belvedere Historic Preservation Fund. The decorative trim was replicated by R G Eaton, and installed by Kolbert Construction.

Casco Street Window Restoration project, funded through a CLG grant for the restoration of the 4 window systems on the Casco Street side of the Hall. Jung Restoration is the contractor. Funded by MHPC, Belvedere Historic Preservation Fund, William and Elsie Foundation, and Connie Harrison.

Historic Structure Report, Planning Grant. MHPC funded the preparation of an building condition assessment which details the building’s current condition, sets forth the building history of projects and repairs; establishes a prioritized list of repairs and restoration projects with an estimate of costs. John Turk, Barba & Wheelock are the architects doing the assessment. William Bennet, mechanical systems analysis; Structural Integrity, structural engineer and Margaret Gaertner, historian. Bruce Sanford, pricing. Funded by MHPC, and Morton Kelly Foundation.

Ballroom Life Safety Code Upgrades, Mark Cummings a nationally recognized Life Safety Expert conducted a thorough examination of the building and recommended several life safety code upgrades that would enable the ballroom to be used for public assembly. Acorn Production collaborated and helped raise $35,000 for the life safety code upgrades and ballroom amenities. Cunningham Security, alarm system; East Coast Electric, emergency lights and exit signs; John Zappe windows and door closers. Alan Shepard of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers provided apprentice labor for 12 additional recepticles and a portable 100 amp subpanel.

Ballroom restrooms, The existing 1 restroom on the third floor was replaced with 4 restrooms one of which is ADA compliant. The Maine State Building and Construction Trade Council coordinated and assisted with the labor costs for D & P plumbing; IBEW electrical; Cunningham Security, fire alarms, Dean & Allyn the sprinkler system; Laborers Union demolition; Carpenters union framing; Paul White, flooring; painting.

Boardroom, has been repainted, the floors refinished and the fluorescent light replaced with period appropriate pendent lights.

Floor Refinishing, hallway, landings, stairs, boardroom, classroom, Maine Journey Mens Association provided the labor and provided the resources for the floor refinishing through Brothers Flooring. PCC also contributed to the funding.

Mechanics’ Hall hallway painting, the Painters Union provided the labor to paint the walls, ceilings, and trim, Sam Swenson completed the work on the stair treads and risers contributed to the paint materials.

Library, Hallway repainted.

Classroom Lighting, the IBEW apprentice program provided the labor to replace the flourescent lights with pendent lighting and the Portland City Church provided track lighting.

Moveable panels, when the Constellation Gallery closed at 511 Congress Street they offered a number of moveable panels for a modest sum. Several were acquired then shortened to 6’8”, casters installed, painted and handles installed. Six are used in the ballroom and two in the classroom.

Chairs, The Portland City Church purchased 160 new cushioned chairs for the ballroom and building. An arrangement was made with the PCC acquiring the chairs and reducing their monthly rent by 1/12th of the cost each month for one year.

Tables, the Mechanics purchased (10) 72” round table seating up to 12 ; (4) folding 8’ tables were also acquired with the PCC purchasing 2. These tables replaced 4 donated tables by the MSBCTC.

Projector, a new projector and folding screen was purchased using monies donated by Pam Plumb as part of the 2016 annual appeal.

Directory sign, Mechanics’ Hall is now prominently identified with a new directory sign with a generous donation by Wayne Ross and Margaret Smith.

Cabinet event sign, thanks to the generosity of Tom Moulton, events now can be displayed in a weather resistant cabinet near the front doors.

Exterior light, a new exterior light over the front doors modeled after a light from the 1950’s has been fabricated and installed thanks to Roger Berle.

Gutters, while not exciting have been cleaned with over 130 gallons of construction debris and organic matter removed. Once the gutters were cleaned, every 20 feet is a joint along the 220 foot length was resealed. The internal downspouts were checked and the one in Art Mart needed a section replaced and cleaned.

Fiber Optic Internet, Mechanics’ Hall is now connected to the internet with a 50/50 fiber optic cable with a router and modem capable of handling close to 300 devices simultaneously. Sam Mateosian as part of the annual appeal has contributed the first year’s connection.