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East Brown Cow Receives Maine Preservation Honor Award for Abraham Robinson Block

East Brown Cow, a leading real estate investment, development and management company, has been presented with a 2023 Maine Preservation Honor Award for their historic rehabilitation of the Abraham Robinson Block in Portland, ME. Since 1998, the Maine Preservation Honor Awards have celebrated excellence in historic preservation, spotlighting transformative rehabilitations of historic buildings and the people behind those projects.

Located at 115 Middle Street in Portland’s Waterfront Historic District, the Abraham Robinson Block is a three-story building situated near the end of the Jewish Quarter. Originally constructed by Abraham Robinson, a Jewish immigrant, the purchase of this property in 1911 aided the community’s formation and vibrancy.

“The revitalization of the Abraham Robinson Block brought together industry experts exemplifying a deep-rooted appreciation for local history and culture, with an eye towards the building’s future stewardship and its contribution to the vitality of Portland’s Old Port neighborhood,” stated Maine Preservation in their spotlight on the building. “The commercial block, having been built as an anchor of the vibrant Jewish Quarter in the early 20th century, will now carry on the legacy of one of Portland’s early immigrant communities.”

When East Brown Cow initially purchased the property in 1998, the upper floors had not been utilized for decades. The overall interior and exterior condition of the building was in fair shape, but over time, many of the interior architectural features had lost significant details or were missing entirely. The East Brown Cow team set into motion repairing the building’s windows and roofing, while also restoring and preserving the interior architectural features that had degraded over time. Today, the first floor of the building hosts retail space while the second and third floors have been revitalized into modern “Urban Homes,” a range of hospitality offerings within The Docent’s Collection. These three-bedroom units honor the original character of each space, providing a glimpse into the history of Portland’s Old Port for visitors to experience firsthand.

"We are honored to receive this award for our preservation work at the Abraham Robinson Block,” said Jacob Soley, Director of Development at East Brown Cow. “The restoration of this culturally significant building was a labor of love for our team, and we are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate its architectural legacy. We look forward to continuing to share the building’s story with visitors of The Docent’s Collection while stewarding the Abraham Robinson Block into the future.”

East Brown Cow’s rehabilitation work at the Abraham Robinson Block was extensive, and included salvaging materials, researching and sourcing accurate replacements, creating and molding replicas, cleaning and preservation, evaluating sound transmissions between floors, historical paint analysis, and general install, paint and construction.

A major component of the project was the revitalization of the tin ceilings throughout the second floor. Following the initial paint removal and material preservation, East Brown Cow partnered with W.F. Norman Corporation, a tin company that has specialized in creating tin and producing replications since 1898. East Brown Cow’s trusted partners at Monaghan Woodworks then installed the ceiling. This historical replication was installed in the missing areas of the second floor’s ceiling and throughout the entirety of the third floor’s ceiling. East Brown Cow also salvaged much of the hardwood flooring, while sourcing new wood within the same species to closely match the original wood grain. For the exterior, local craftsmen at M.R. Brewer fabricated a new door along with the surrounding trim work and millwork to match the building’s original storefront design from the 1900’s. East Brown Cow also worked with Best Dressed Signs to create a gilded entry sign for The Docent’s Collection that would match early 20th century signage. Along with this entrance work, new roofing was installed and missing areas of the roof’s cornice were replaced with leaded copper to recreate and preserve historical details.

Other honorees from the 2023 Awards program included: Stevens Square Community Center in Portland, The Hammond in Bangor, The Lemont Block in Brunswick, Marguerite Emerson House in Portland, River House in Norridgewock, Building 12 in Portland, Founders Hall in Pittsfield, Freeport Historical Society, Isle au Haut Lighthouse, and Judy Barrington of Bath.


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