SUBMITTED GRAPHIC/Courtesy of Daniel FrechetteAn example of some of Frechette’s design work on the interior gates and barricades that will be added to Fort Gorges in Portland as part of a major restoration project.

SUBMITTED GRAPHIC/Courtesy of Daniel FrechetteAn example of some of Frechette’s design work on the interior gates and barricades that will be added to Fort Gorges in Portland as part of a major restoration project.

BIDDEFORD — One Biddeford Regional Center of Technology student is helping restore a part of history to its former glory.

Daniel Frechette, 16, a junior at Biddeford High School who studies architecture at the COT, is using his skills and schooling to design iron railings and gates at Fort Gorges in Portland’s Casco Bay.

Daniel Frechette, 16, looks at his designs for gates and barricades that will be constructed and installed at Portland's Fort Gorges over the next several months. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

Daniel Frechette, 16, looks at his designs for gates and barricades that will be constructed and installed at Portland’s Fort Gorges over the next several months. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

The project is spearheaded by the Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with Tantara Corp. of Worcester, Massachusetts, and Maine Architectural Ironworks in Biddeford.

Frechette said he became interested in architecture and design through visiting his aunt, whom he said lives in a heavily-wooded area.

“Whenever I visit, I’ll just be like, ‘This could be better; you could fix this,’” said Frechette. “It all just started popping in my head.”

From there, he took classes at the COT in architecture, design and fabrication. He was approached by Dana Peck, owner of Maine Architectural Ironworks, to work on the Fort Gorges project.

“Many moons ago I was a chemistry teacher here at the high school,” said Peck. “It came time to find someone do the real basic things we need done on this project, where a student could take advantage of looking at a real life project that’s relatively straightforward — something they can get education from and help out the community.”

According to Peck, who stressed he is trying to retire as fast as possible, Maine Architectural Ironworks will be fabricating the gating and railings, and Tantara will be installing them over the next couple months.

No battles were fought and no troops were stationed at Fort Gorges, which was constructed on Hog Island in Casco Bay between 1858 and 1864. It was considered largely obselete shortly after its construction due to the advent of improved war ships.

But after years sitting idle, the fort — which is now a park and listed on the National Register of Historic Places — has begun to deteriorate in the sea salt air.

Frechette’s designs include most of the interior gates and barricades. He said he doesn’t think his work is much of a big deal, but that it was mostly an opportunity for him to have fun.

“I don’t even really think of it as something that big at first,” Frechette said. “I just worked hard and (the opportunity) just popped up,” he said.

But Peck sees the project as a big deal.

“(Frechette’s) learned the language that people who are architects speak, and that’s a whole different language that I speak as a fabricator … to get the prints to the point that they’re useful for everybody,” he said. “He probably would not have run into (the language) until he was in an actual architecture firm or doing a job shadow.”

Peck said he’s proud to offer these real-world opportunities to students who excel, and credited the COT’s curriculum with providing students the chance to see what it takes to work on jobs firsthand.

“It’s always nice to come back and find that the quality of the students is as good or if not better that it was over the years,” he said. “There’s still a good amount of students to contribute to the state of Maine and the economy.”

According to Peck, there are still a few minor tweaks to be made to the project’s design, but those will be worked out in time.

For Frechette, who said he’s mostly a “sports guy,” he wants to stay in Maine after graduation. He plans to attend Southern Maine Community College for two years, but still isn’t sure where he wants to go after — it just has to involve architecture.

“I’m still thinking about it,” he said. 

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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