Gorham Academy on the University of Southern Maine campus in Gorham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

GORHAM — An historical architect has been examining and researching the old Gorham Academy building this week to assess its repair needs for the University of Southern Maine.

It’s a step towards the university restoring the 214-year-old landmark.

“Everybody feels committed to taking measures to preserve it,” said Ann Vashon, project manager at the university’s Facilities Management and General Services.

Noah Miner, chairman of the Gorham Historic Preservation Commission, said this week that architect Malcolm Collins of Freeport is researching the project and doing what Miner called “forensic architecture.”

“It’s welcome news,” Miner said.

The academy building, a Commonwealth of Massachusetts grant, opened in 1806, 14 years before Maine became a state in 1820. The academy was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Gorham Academy closed in 1877. The building and its lot was leased in 1909 by its board of trustees to the State Normal School, now USM, for 999 years. The lessee was responsible for fire insurance and repairs.

Vashon said the university plans to restore the building compliant with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. The building appeared on the 2019 Greater Portland Landmarks’ “Places in Peril” list.

The architectural evaluation, Vashon said, will reveal what repairs are needed and the university will seek funding.

“There are various grants available,” Vashon said.

Repairs are unlikely to begin this year.

The academy opened as a prep school for boys and tuition was $2.50 per quarter in 1807. Today, the university’s Art Department uses the building for classes.

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