April 24, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Glimpse of divine kitchens

A tour of six beautifully designed Portland kitchens, including one in a former church, invites guests to feast their eyes while enjoying tastings and cooking demonstrations.

PORTLAND — If you are a fan of the restaurant Grace on Chestnut Street, the 19th-century church that was renovated into a fine dining establishment, then you'll probably also be fascinated by the new interior of the former Payson Park Evangelical Free Church.

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The kitchen in the former Payson Park Evangelical Free Church on Ocean Avenue, now a residence, features a large, marble-covered island.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Cabinets surrounding a marble backsplash and a new La Cornue range are located where the baptismal font used to be in the former church overlooking Payson Park.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10 and 11

WHERE: Tour begins at St. Lawrence Arts, 76 Congress St.

TICKETS: $25 online at portlandkitchentour.com or $30 at the door. Part of the proceeds benefit St. Lawrence Arts.

The former church has been transformed into a single-family home with an upscale kitchen and butler's pantry.

The kitchen, located where the baptismal font used to be, features a new La Cornue range with copper accents, and three islands for cooking and entertaining.

The benches pulled up to the dining table are pews from the old church. Light streams in from the towering arched windows on both sides of the giant open space.

Rising over the living area and kitchen is a new stairway connecting the former choir loft (now a private master suite) on the second floor with a media room on the third floor.

"We call it the stairway to heaven," joked Tina Richardson, the president of Maine Coast Kitchen Design who, along with her husband Erik, bought the church and renovated it.

Curious? You can worship at this culinary altar yourself during the inaugural Portland Kitchen Tour on Mother's Day weekend. The tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10 and 11, and cover six kitchens in the Portland area.

Tickets are $25 online (portland kitchentour.com) or $30 at the door. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit St. Lawrence Arts at 76 Congress St. on Munjoy Hill, which will also serve as the starting location for the tour.

Four of the kitchens are in the East End, including one with stunning views of Casco Bay that's been renovated by homeowners Pam and Peter Macomber in an urban contemporary style. Another kitchen is in the West End, and the sixth is in the former church in the Back Cove area.

The church was founded in 1896 by Norwegian immigrants who wanted to be able to worship in their own tongue. By the early 1950s, much of the congregation was living in North Deering, so they bought a small vacant lot on Ocean Avenue and built a new church with their own hands. The first services were held in the building in fall 1954, and the church was renamed the Payson Park Evangelical Free Church.

The growing congregation relocated to Westbrook in 2006 and is now known as the First Evangelical Free Church of Maine.

Tina Richardson said the space was in rough shape when she and her husband bought it. They gutted the inside and worked with what they had, making the decision not to add any walls. They sheet-rocked all the exposed wood ceilings, but kept some of the beams.

The Richardsons tried to keep some of the church-like features in the building's new incarnation. Walking in the door, visitors are greeted by an angel sculpture.

They kept the arched windows, but the glass had to be replaced. They saved the old glass and used it in some of the kitchen cabinets.

There is a Skyros marble countertop on the largest kitchen island, marble on the windowsills and even a marble backsplash.

"We tried to pull in as much marble as we could, because when I think of church, I think marble," Richardson said.

The large, marble-covered island is for entertaining and serving, and has a big farm sink with copper fixtures. Two smaller islands are for baking and prepping, and have a countertop made of verde bamboo granite. One of the smaller islands has a small wet bar sink.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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The owners of the renovated church on Ocean Avenue retained some of the building’s original features.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Stenciled images of plants in the floor and a wedge-shaped island are among the creative touches in the kitchen of an Eastern Prom home that is on the tour.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer

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A large picture window in the modern kitchen of the Macomber home provides great views of Casco Bay.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer

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A modern kitchen in the East End has Silestone counters, which look like marble but “without the hassle,” says Pam Macomber, who owns the home with her husband Peter.

Joel Page/Staff Photographer


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