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 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 office at to receive a copy of this report or discuss any restoration projects.

Major hall restoration efforts began in 2013 and include the following completed projects:

2017 – 2020

Library Thanks to the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation, the Morton Kelly Fund, and a CLG award from the City of Portland and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission the library has been completely restored. These funds allowed the oak floors to be refinished, the walls repaired and painted, the ceilings repaired and painted, the addition of 11 new light fixtures greatly improving the lighting, new electrical service replaced the old knob and tube wiring, and we added several new receptacles improving the functionality of the library. The industrial green metal shelving was removed and the original library ornate shelving repositioned with new ADA compliant spacing of 42 inches. The deaccessioning of several thousand books, many of which had not been checked out in 50 years, has allowed the collection to be updated. The past President portraits were cleaned, polished and repositioned. The workers who assisted included Brothers Flooring, Yofred Isgar Painting with his assistant Ernesto, Northlight Electric, Peter Hume (drywall), with our own Herb Adams and Karolyn Greenstreet also helping to paint. People who assisted in the deaccessioning include library volunteers Carolyn Sloat, Connie Harrison, Jeff Lyons, Beverly Stewart, Wayne Frederick, and secretary Donna Knoblock. Jay York and Gregg Harper assisted with repositioning the library shelves. Completed: spring of 2018 to fall of 2019.

Window Restoration The east facing windows have been restored by Jung Restoration who has done all of the previous window restoration on the Hall. Thanks once again to the City of Portland and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission who awarded a CLG grant for this project. Thank you to the Morton Kelly Foundation who provided the 40% match for this round of CLG funding. Late winter, 2020.

Ballroom The wall dividing our ballroom was finally removed thanks to the effort of many, primarily the Maine State Building and Construction Trade Council and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 716, namely Jason Shedlock, John Napolitano, Robert Burr, Josh Levinson, Brian Clark, Kevin O’brien, & Martin Cleveland. The floors were patched by Rodney Baxter and refinished by Brothers Flooring. The walls and ceiling were painted by Yofred Isgar who came in on Memorial Day weekend at 4:30 am to meet our schedule. Northlight Electric added a 20 amp electrical service in the form of quad receptacles to many areas. Completed: summer of 2019.

Caterer Kitchen The former studio of artist Rebecca Goodale was converted to a prep kitchen to accommodate the many ballroom functions where caterers need a prep station, staging area, and clean-up equipment. Northlight Electric rewired the room and installed new lighting. Don Bailey installed the plumbing including a code required grease trap. Capozza Tile donated much of the installation labor and flooring. Matt Newhall of MN Construction, Dan Kolbert, and Tristan Sleeper completed the carpentry work. The large stainless sink was donated by and carried up to the third floor by Jason Shedlock and John Napolitano. Completed: summer of 2019.

Maine Craft Gallery After 20 years, the owner of Encore Vintage shop retired. This marked the beginning of restorations to the 521 Congress Street retail space. The exquisite original Carter Brothers cabinetry was preserved, new lighting was installed, and the entire electrical system was replaced by Paul Goudreau and Godfrey Lake. A new restroom was also installed as well as new access to Casco Street which, once other restoration work on the first floor of the Hall has been completed, will provide ADA access to the Hall itself. Dan Kolbert and MN Construction provided the carpentry labor, while Peter Hume installed drywall, and Yofred Isgar painted the walls, applying intumescent paint on the ceiling as required by life safety code. Bill Reagan installed the plumbing including a 4” vent pipe through 4 stories to the attic roof to meet plumbing codes. Completed: summer of 2018.

Casco Street Basement Bulkhead Following a snow plow mishap, the damaged bulkhead was replaced with funding from our insurance carrier Liberty Mutual. John Pompeo provided the labor and materials. Jake Ryan constructed the new stairs. Completed: 2018.

Classroom The classroom walls and ceiling have been painted with new shelving installed on the 2 side walls. And a new radiator cover was built. Completed: 2017.

2013 – 2016

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.