January 14, 2013

Sanford preservation group hopes to save historic 'jewel'

The Goodall Mansion was built by the man who created a textile empire.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SANFORD – The "Jewel of Sanford" will go up for auction this week and a local group hopes the sale will begin a new era for the historic Goodall Mansion.

click image to enlarge

Goodall Mansion in Sanford is being auctioned off this Thursday. A group called the Goodall Mansion Society hopes to buy the historic home and turn it into a cultural center. Photographed on Monday, January 14, 2013.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

Representatives of the Goodall Mansion Society will attend the auction Thursday with hopes of acquiring the stately 18-room mansion on Main Street.

The group has plans to transform the mansion into a preservation workshop and cultural center, but it first must raise money to buy and restore the house.

The mansion, built by the industrialist who founded Sanford's textile mills, is a significant piece of the city's history and should be preserved, said Harland Eastman, president of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society.

"It would be a tragedy if this monument should be lost. It would be a terrible loss," he said.

The mansion will be sold during a bank foreclosure auction at 1:45 p.m. Thursday at the law offices of Shapiro and Morely in South Portland.

Joe Doiron and a handful of other Sanford residents formed the Goodall Mansion Society more than two years ago, when they realized that there were no plans to respond to a foreclosure of the property, he said.

The group came up with preliminary plans, but has largely remained low-key leading up to the foreclosure auction. Doiron said he is confident that residents will join the effort to raise money to pay for and restore the mansion.

"Whenever I talk to anyone in town, they say we have to do something about saving that building," Doiron said. "It's in desperate need of repair. It's now or never to save it and open it up as a public center."

The 18-room mansion was built by Thomas Goodall on 2.5 acres on Main Street in 1871.

Goodall, who made his fortune during the Civil War by producing horse blankets, moved to Sanford in 1867 to establish textile mills. At one time, textile mills employed a third of the town's residents.

"The house stands as a monument to what built Sanford," Eastman said.

The mansion was built with amenities such as gas lighting, a croquet court in the basement and an extensive greenhouse where fruits, vegetables and flowers were grown year-round.

It was remodeled after 1910 in the colonial revival style that was popular at the turn of the century, and the exterior has changed little since then.

The house remained in the Goodall family until Ruth Goodall Pitstick, great-granddaughter of Thomas Goodall, bequeathed it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C., in 1995.

In 2001, the trust sold the mansion to Patrick Fagan of Sanford for $500,000.

Doiron said the house was up for sale in recent years. The asking price initially was $1 million, but dropped several times until it reached $390,000, he said. Foreclosure proceedings began in 2009.

The property's value is assessed at $577,100, according to city records.

The Goodall Mansion Society envisions a cultural center that residents would use for recitals, plays, concerts and similar events, Doiron said.

Plans include a woodworking shop that would focus on repairing the building and offering classes to local students, an English garden and an artist-in-residence program.

Doiron estimates it will take $120,000 to "button up and stabilize" the building -- which went unheated during recent winters -- and about $500,000 to restore it enough to open it to the public.

"(The Goodalls) have been good to Sanford," he said. "It's time for us to honor them and save the building."

Whoever buys the Goodall Mansion will face restrictions on what can be done to the property. When the Pitstick family gave the house to the National Trust for Historical Preservation, that organization placed easements on the property before it sold it to Fagan.

The house and grounds are protected "to ensure any changes are appropriate and enhance the property," said Shantia Anderheggen, easement administrator for the trust.

Any significant changes need approval from the trust. That includes any plan to use the property for something other than a single-family house, said Anderheggen.

Since the national trust sold the property to Fagan in 2001, it has stayed in close contact with the owner, Anderheggen said. Fagan did some repairs, but the trust is aware that more work is needed on the mansion.

"It's a pivotal historic property in Sanford," she said. "We're looking forward to the next phase of this building."

 

Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@pressherald.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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