A partnership that’s believed to include Roxanne Quimby, a co-founder of the Burt’s Bees line of personal care products, has bought and is renovating the historic building on Congress Street that housed the Roma restaurant until late last year.

Seaside Partners bought the building, known as the Rines Mansion, at 767 Congress St. in November for $800,000, according to city tax records.

Robert M. Napolitano, a lawyer whose office is next door to the building, said he sees Quimby nearly every day at the site, where workers have been “redoing the floors, putting in a new kitchen and fixing up the interior.”

Napolitano said he has been told the plans for the building include a culinary arts school and an art gallery.

Attempts to reach Quimby for comment were unsuccessful Friday.

R. Howard Lake, a lawyer in Winthrop who is listed in state records as the clerk for Seaside Partners, declined to confirm that Quimby is one of the principals or say what plans the partnership has for the building.

Whatever the future holds for the former restaurant, the closing of the Roma and the sale of the building are milestones for two Portland institutions.

Designed by the noted Portland architect Francis Fassett, the Rines Mansion was built for J. Henry and Anna Isabel Rines in a brick mansard style. The couple took up residence there in 1887, and over the next four decades entertained Portland’s leading residents and dignitaries from away.

The Rines family’s business holdings in Portland included the Congress Square Hotel, now the Eastland Park Hotel, and WCSH-TV.

The Roma Cafe, established by Dominic Marino in 1924, moved into the Rines Mansion in 1935.

Although its stature was eclipsed by the recent rise of Portland’s restaurant industry, for decades the Roma and its American-Italian fare, served up in the elegant mansion’s rooms, were a major feature in the city’s dining landscape.


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