An article from the series celebrating Hallowell’s 250th Anniversary, as published in the Capital Weekly on February 3, 2012. Adapted from ‘Row House, A Brief History’ by the late Donald Huff, Row House trustee
Row House, Inc. was incorporated in July 1969 in response to a grass roots concern with the deterioration and threatened of several buildings having architectural and historical significance in Hallowell’s past. The initial corporation’s officers and trustees, eleven in number, gave the seed money to purchase what seen to be the most endangered historic property. The property was the 1840’s Row House on Second Street and the organization took its corporate name from this project. Additional interested people augmented a fund for limited restoration of the building. Work started with most of the labor for cleaning up, exterior repairs, painting, etc., being done by original members and new member volunteers. Application to the National Register of Historic Properties for designation as an historic building was filed soon after its acquisition. The building was accepted and added to the National Registry in 1970.
Another major accomplishment in 1970 was the acceptance of Hallowell’s application to create a 207 acre historic district. The announcement was made by Senators Margret Chase Smith and Edmund Muskie. The following year Senator Smith announced that Row House’s application for federal restoration funds under the National Preservation Act of 1966 was accepted. Row House received the first grant awarded in the United States under that appropriation.
A related project was sponsoring an architectural inventory of many of Hallowell’s historic homes. The inventory’s permanent repository is the Library of Congress. Row House’s architectural advisory service researched the roots of some twenty residences in Hallowell’s historic district. Each subscriber received a dossier documenting the past owners, architectural features and registry of deed records. Copies are at the Hubbard Free Library.
There are many related and significant contributions to Row House, Inc. The driving force of its first president Linda B. Clark, the support of individuals and local groups that raised money through suppers, flea market sales and house tours have all contributed to organization’s success.
Row House went on to purchase and salvage the Cross Roads building on the corner of Water and Academy Streets in 1971. After returning it to saleable condition, the organization purchased, repaired and sold the Gagne house at the south end of Water Street, just one more example of the Row House’s achievements in its early years.
Recent Row House projects include: partnering with the City of Hallowell to renovate City Hall in time for its 100th anniversary in 1998, supporting creation of the Museum-in-the Streets and restoration of the Old Hallowell Cannon.