We were awarded this commission as a result of a juried competition which solicited designs for the rehabilitation of a significant downtown building to house the Children’s Museum of Maine. Considered a “contributing building” to Portland’s Historic District, the structure was built in 1830 as a theater, and in 1836 became a Baptist Church. In 1926, John Calvin Stevens renovated it for the Chamber of Commerce, adding a colonnade and pediment which remain.

The general form of the building, and especially the front façade, were to be preserved. After a complete gutting of the building, including removal of the timber roof trusses, a new steel superstructure and steel-framed roof were inserted. New mechanical and electrical systems were installed. A new rear stairwell provides critical circulation and egress, and will engage future courtyard development. New windows and skylights on the east wall provide ample natural light and, from outside, create an intriguing transparency which attracts passers-by.

Intensive coordination with the Museum’s exhibit design team produced an environment wherein the architecture and the exhibits blend. From the basement lecture hall to the “camera obscura” in the new cupola, the building serves to entertain and educate children of all ages. A severely dilapidated building has been resuscitated, and has become a crucial element of the fabric of downtown Portland.

photos: Brian Vanden Brink



site plan
Children's Museum