The University of Southern Maine has temporarily stopped the renovation of its 193-year-old art gallery on the Gorham campus following a public outcry about historic preservation concerns at the landmark.

Judie O’Malley, university spokeswoman, said the university’s chief financial officer, Dick Campbell, on Tuesday ordered the work suspended pending a meeting next week with interested parties and groups.

A former Gorham town house, the art gallery on College Avenue was built in 1821. A plaque on the building says it had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Under university renovation plans, windows were removed last week from sides of the building, along with wooden clapboards. The university planned to replace clapboards with vinyl siding.

But, the project on Friday drew criticism from the community.

“They’ve destroyed the exterior fabric of the building,” Thomas Johnson, chairman of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, said on July 11 when viewing the structure.

Gorham resident Adam Ogden said placing synthetic materials on the landmark is “totally inappropriate,” and Ogden raised awareness of the project on July 10 after seeing the building minus its siding and windows.

“This is a crime,” Ogden said.

The university hopes to organize a meeting for next week but no date had been set on Tuesday.

A groundswell of outrage has followed last week’s removal of clapboard siding and windows from a historic structure on the University of Southern Maine campus in Gorham.


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