Improving

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This old 1849 mill is getting a do-over, a second chance after years of sitting empty. It has suffered from neglect and bad window changes. But here it shows what the new windows will look like, ahhhh just lovely. The developer could have gone for a squared off window and filled in the arch, but instead chose to get exactly what this facade needed to be brought back to life. The old windows are lovely too, but in rough shape, hopefully they will be salvaged. Currently asbestos removal is being done, but through some open upper windows around the corner the underside of the floors are visible, beautiful wide warm toned wood with huge beams. There was a plan years ago to make this a mixed use of businesses, art studios and start ups space. Now I believe it will be mid to high end housing units. Still, it is at least going to be used and not left to deteriorate more. Parking might be a bit of a problem as it is a big building not originally designed for residences. But it is a good example of re use instead of demolition.

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What potential

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While I was out walking around the city a couple of evenings ago, I happened to be on the right side of the street to see this beautiful facade. The Hosford Building, built in 1871. What a beauty it still is all these years later. It doesn’t look as if the upper levels are in active use, but the street level is. Many cities have laws on the books that won’t allow upper levels to be used as residences if they started life as office or commercial space. Which is crazy, but is how the laws are written. The ones that are grandfathered for residential use are often few and far between. It would seem such an easy law to change, to allow the spaces to be converted to living space drawing in bodies to support the shops below. Yet many of the windows of such buildings are full of commercial rental signs instead of occupants making use of the space. It just seems counterintuitive to me. This facade might or might not hold amazing potential for living space, but it seems the option should at least be able to be considered wherever they occur.

Metamorphosis

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The mill where my studio is undergoing another stage of “metamorphisation” , the top 2 floors on the ‘A’ mill side are complete and all but 2 studios are occupied. The big change now is…the basement. The whole space is being cleared out and transformed into studios. The bricked up windows in the ‘A’ side will be restored and a courtyard space outside the entrance put in. The work on the C/D mill is in progress with much noise and energy. I did not hear about the offer to go in and get things from the space before work began, but did get a few of the old spools for display. And I got to see what has been done so far with the offer to check in regularly and see the progress. Anyone who has been inside a mill will know what I mean when I say “space”. The expansiveness of these old buildings for the equipment they used to house is amazing. The light from the old windows equally so, and though I don’t want to romanticize the hard work the employees had for the wages they received, the buildings are just beautiful to behold. Here in New England there are still so many mills, both converted to living and business, and  some just empty. It always makes me sad when one goes up in flames, usually an empty one, but sometimes not. The Saco-Biddeford (Maine) mills have recently been bought, electric blankets were once made there, I think by Westinghouse. DownEast  magazine ran an article on the building,  the history and the plans for its future. Once again the space was amazing to see, and in this case the special paint used inside gave a pristine feeling to the images. I am excited to see the transition as the new spaces at the Western Ave Studios takes place over the next few months. It invigorates the place, sending a current of energy through the building as if it too knows the efforts to bring it back to full usefulness. I will post more images as I get them so you can share in the progress.