2018-03-29 / News

Ocean Park buildings take beating

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Construction has begun on Porter Hall in Ocean Park to repair the damages inflicted when a tree fell on the building last fall. (Abigail Worthing photo) Construction has begun on Porter Hall in Ocean Park to repair the damages inflicted when a tree fell on the building last fall. (Abigail Worthing photo) OCEAN PARKs – With tourist season around the corner, Ocean Park is faced with repairing damages from last fall’s “bomb cyclone” that hit southern Maine.

On Oct. 30, extreme winds caused trees to fall in Temple Park on Temple Avenue, falling into power lines and causing damage to surrounding buildings. The Temple itself was remarkably spared from marked amounts of damage, with a large tree missing the building itself and landing on the front steps. Porter Hall, however, suffered the brunt of the damage when a large tree fell over the top and collapsed a portion of the roof.

“The tree was so tall, it was uprooted and bent over the top of the hall,” said Jerry Gosselin, executive director of Ocean Park Association.


Tree removal services work on cutting the fallen tree in pieces and removing the pieces through the ceiling of Porter Hall on Oct. 31, 2017. (Courtesy photo) Tree removal services work on cutting the fallen tree in pieces and removing the pieces through the ceiling of Porter Hall on Oct. 31, 2017. (Courtesy photo) Gosselin is in his sixth year as executive director.

Jackson Tree Services was able to come down the following day to remove the tree from the building. The tree itself was so big the removal service had to cut the middle section of the tree into pieces and take them down through the roof.

While the damage is significant, most of the structural damage was in the ceiling of the 116-year-old building.

“It really exposed the strength of this structure,” Gosselin said. “The tree didn’t come crashing into the building.”

When the tree fell into the building, it skewed the building slightly, causing the building to lean a bit and become trapezoidal. Inside Porter Hall, there are signs of where the intense impact disturbed the building including a ceiling fan’s propellers that broke off and cracked windows.

The cost for the repairs to Porter Hall and to the Temple will range to about $75,000, a figure that includes the debris and tree removal this fall. This money comes as a result from a direct insurance payout from Liberty Mutual, who Gosselin says have been very accommodating during this time. A large part of the renovation to be done to the building will be to fix the current tilt of the structure.

“We need to lift and shift (the building). It needs to be supported,” said Warren Kenniston, facilities manager of Ocean Park Association.

Kenniston has summered in Ocean Park since 1964 and has lived there permanently for three years.

Among other renovations to be done to the building will be a new porch and ramp, as well as the replacement of the front pillars and plaster column capitals that were damaged during the storm. Luckily, because the damage was caused by the storm, the repairs will be covered by insurance.

The deadline for completion of the repairs is on May 15, two weeks before the first services to be held in Porter Hall for the 2018 season. While the official season doesn’t start until June 24, the first few weeks of the Ocean Park summer season services take place in Porter Hall because it is well insulated and has the ability to be heated during services.

Porter Hall holds many smaller functions during the summer season in Ocean Park, from meetings to events. When renovations on the hall are completed, Ocean Park Association plans to rededicate the hall on June 24, after the first service in The Temple of the 2018 season. Porter Hall was first dedicated in 1902 as Porter Hall of Philosophy, and was built in memory of Reverend Ethnan William Porter, who served as superintendent of the assembly from 1880 TO 1898. Porter was also on the committee for choosing the site for the Ocean Park Association.

After completion of the 2018 season, Ocean Park Association will build a new bandstand in Village Square, a project made possible by donated funds from Beth Keene in memory of her husband, Douglas Keene. The bandstand will eventually host outdoor concerts, and Gosselin believes it will become a community destination for weddings and private functions.

“We were planning to break ground in the beginning of May, but we’d be butting up against the beginning of the season, and we don’t want to disturb those who live in the area, so we’ll begin construction in the fall,” Gosselin said.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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