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February 27, 2018

On the market, unique Grand Trunk depot generates major interest

Courtesy / Maine Preservation
Courtesy / Maine Preservation
The 1906 Grand Trunk Railroad Depot in Yarmouth is on the market for $165,000 and will have an open house today, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Grand Trunk Railroad Depot in Yarmouth, built in 1906 and one of Maine's unique structures, is up for sale and is already generating considerable interest.

The seller is the Yarmouth Village Improvement Society. Maine Preservation, also in Yarmouth, is marketing the depot through its Protect & Sell Program.

"There's been tremendous interest in the property," mainly from the Yarmouth and Portland area, said Sarah Hansen, Maine Preservation's real estate manager. "There are at least a dozen people who are really serious about making an offer. We were surprised but we're also not surprised. It's such an iconic building and a great location in the middle of the village center."

The station was leased by Village Florist & Co. up until about a year ago, said Hansen.

"That's how most people know the train depot," she said.

The Protect & Sell Program started in 2013 to help individuals seeking to sell their historic properties but wanting to safeguard the building's future. Maine Preservation retains a preservation easement to guide a building's rehabilitation and ensure its preservation in perpetuity. Other buildings in the program include the circa-1890 Odd Fellows Hall in Pembroke and a circa-1782 house in Kennebunk.

Ties to state's railroad history

Courtesy / Maine Preservation
Courtesy / Maine Preservation
The fieldstone fireplace and woodwork date back to the depot’s origin.

According to disclosure documents provided by Maine Preservation, the depot is part of the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad route from Portland to Montreal, completed in 1853 and leased that year to the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada. Portland was the railroad terminus in the United States, but Yarmouth was the point at which the Grand Trunk crossed the Maine Central Railroad and took its northwesterly course over the Appalachians. The Grand Trunk Railway was a precursor to today's Canadian National Railway Co.

The town of Yarmouth purchased the station from the Canadian National Railway Co. in 1965.

Located on 0.03 acre at 288 Main St. behind the Village Green Park, the building retains many original station features, including beadboard walls, light fixtures and the ticket window. The frame construction features a hipped roof, two ornate brick chimneys and granite block walls rising five feet above grade. The construction differed from the traditional stick-style-Italianate stations that predominated in the late 1800s.

On a related note, in Portland, the Grand Trunk Building at 1 India St. was renovated and, as of April 2017, houses a Gorham Savings Bank branch and office space.

Maine Preservation holds open house today

Courtesy / Maine Preservation
Courtesy / Maine Preservation
The station’s apse features a domed ceiling and curved walls.

The asking price is $165,000 and comes with a preservation easement. Maine Preservation is holding an open house Feb. 27, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Offers will be due to Maine Preservation by 5 p.m. on March 6. Offers will be reviewed March 7 and it's expected that a preferred buyer will be notified by noon on March 8.

The building is a rarity for its shape and good condition.

"There are certainly a number of train stations left around Maine, but this one is so well preserved," said Hansen.

The ideal buyer will be someone who understands and appreciates the history of the property, she said. "One of the goals that a new owner would have is to preserve it and rehabilitate it to make sure it's being used but also that what makes it special is kept intact," she said. Otherwise, the commission is not seeking a specific use for the building. "Anything allowed by town would be fine."

The preservation easement will protect the exterior and interior.

"There are features inside that the Village Improvement Society wants to make sure are maintained," Hansen said. "Part of holding the easement is that we provide help to the new property owner, to make sure that the changes they want to make — like adding a new bathroom or kitchen, which is fine — is done in a way that respects the building's historic nature."

The building means a lot to Yarmouth residents, Hansen said.

"It's probably the most recognizable building here," she said. "There's a universal love of the train station. So we're very excited and we're also very honored that we're able to work with the Village Improvement Society to find the next owner."

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