Local Crews Race the Weather to Button Up Building 

Work crews hustled through the fall to complete major structural renovations on the historic Parker J. Noyes building in Lancaster. 

Upstarrs framing 1633“We are really so grateful for how hard everyone has worked and how the Garland Mill team has coordinated all the moving pieces,” said Julie Renaud Evans, program director for the Northern Forest Center, which owns the building.  

The Center purchased the 11,000-square-foot building on Main Street in 2018 as part of its Community Investment work. The renovation will create retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, supporting Lancaster’s role as an economic hub for the North Country. The building is listed on the NH State Register of Historic Places. 

“Like most renovation projects, we found some surprises,” said Evans. “We discovered some old fire damage in the rafters and determined we needed a full foundation under the back end of the building.” 

Excavating 1629The date of the fire is unknown, but it charred beams on the second floor. HEB Engineers prescribed reinforcements to eliminate any possible problems in the future, and Garland Mill and Canton Construction quickly put the reinforcements in place. 

The other big surprise was that the rubble foundation at the east end of the building could not be stabilized enough to be used. With fall temperatures dropping quickly, Garland Mill, which is managing the project for the Center, raced to pull together designer Stuart Anderson of Alba Architects, HEB Engineers, excavator Dave Chessman of Lancaster, and concrete contractor Bob Barnes to plan and construct the new foundation.  

isp speedometerCommunity broadband planning often starts with two seemingly simple questions: Where do we have service, and how fast is it? 

To help answer these questions, the Center and the Maine West initiative are partnering with the Maine Broadband Coalition to implement a new crowdsourcing effort to map actual internet speeds across the state.

Launched statewide in November, following approval this summer of a $15 million bond to support statewide broadband expansion, the Getting up to Speed initiative will help local, regional, and state leaders develop projects and steer investments to the places that need it most.


Penobscot Ave Millinocket Sept. 2019 crpdThe town of Millinocket, Maine, is developing a design strategy that will help build economic viability and increase quality of life in the community. In a recent 2-day workshop, residents collaborated on improvements and guidelines they would like to see result from the town's design project with the Citizen’s Institute on Rural Design (CIRD).

As a facilitator of the project, the Center helped the town and local nonprofit Our Katahdin write a successful program application to work with CIRD and has been an active participant throughout the project. The project has been a collaborative effort for the Town of Millinocket, which received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to host the multi-day design workshop.

Crews are finishing up demolition work at the Center’s Parker J. Noyes renovation project in Lancaster, NH, and will soon move on to structural repairs and exterior upgrades.

Meet the project team and take a quick video tour of the top floor with Center President Rob Riley.