PORTLAND – City officials have halted exterior renovations at the former Portland Press Herald building on Congress Street because the work violated a historic preservation permit.

A code enforcement officer posted a stop-work order late Tuesday afternoon on the building at 390 Congress St.

He took action after Deborah Andrews, the city’s historic preservation manager, noticed that workers were removing and replacing one of four bronze-framed, street-level windows on the building’s facade.

A work permit issued in August by the Historic Preservation Board allowed certain window improvements but didn’t include the removal or replacement of the four bronze-framed windows, Andrews said Wednesday.

“Those windows are original to the building,” Andrews said. “If they remove those windows, it changes the appearance of the building. They can’t change those windows without prior review and approval from the board.”

The nearly 84,000-square-foot building is vacant and being marketed for lease by The Dunham Group.

It’s located in a historic district established in March 2009.

The six-story front section was built in 1947; the seven-story rear section was built in 1925.

Real estate developer John Cacoulidis bought the building for $3 million in July 2009 — a month after MaineToday Media Inc. purchased the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram from The Seattle Times Co.

Property tax records list the building’s owner as Metro Media Properties of Jericho, N.Y.

The building is located directly across Congress Street from City Hall.

When Andrews saw that the bronze-framed windows were being removed on Tuesday, she asked the workers to stop until the preservation board could review the project.

The workers initially stopped, Andrews said, but when she passed by the building later that day, they were removing another window.

A worker said his boss had told them to resume the project, she said.

He also said they planned to attach the original bronze frame on the new windows.

“That may be the case,” Andrews said. “They still need the board’s approval to do it.”

Andrews said she’s scheduled to meet Monday with the project’s architect, David Lloyd of Archetype Architects in Portland. Lloyd and a representative of The Dunham Group couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

The owner of 390 Congress St. has a building permit, issued in May, to renovate the interior of the building, including bathrooms and elevators. Earlier permits allowed interior demolition, roofing replacement, fire-proofing, floor leveling and sprinkler improvements.

The building was constructed by the Guy Gannett Publishing Co., which owned the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram until 1998.

The front section also once housed the WGAN radio and television stations, the now-defunct Portland Evening Express newspaper and the local office of The Associated Press.

The offices of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram are now two blocks away at One City Center on Monument Square.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]