Embattled Chestnut Street house razed
Camden — Efforts by neighbors and community members to halt demolition of the Captain Frye House ceased Wednesday, Jan. 30, as Maine Coast Construction began tearing down the house.
Captain Frye house is located at 58 Chestnut St. in Camden, was built in the late 1800s and served as Camden's livery stable for a time.
The home is owned by Robert Hammer and Susan Crowe, who previously said they plan to build a new home on the site. Architect Jack Silverio of Lincolnville designed the home that will be built on the lot where the Captain Frye House has stood for more than a century.
While Hammer did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday, Jan. 29, yellow caution tape was visible around the perimeter of the property nearest Chestnut Street. Construction equipment arrived Wednesday morning and the process of leveling the building began around 7:45 a.m.
Despite a raw, drizzly winter morning neighborhood joggers and dog walkers went about their morning routines, many pausing momentarily to look as the demolition of the residence progressed. Traffic and parking were not restricted on Chestnut Street or Frye Street during the initial stages of demolition, but shortly after 10 a.m. traffic was detoured away from Frye Street as the barn portion of the structure was taken to the ground.
Workers at the site said demolition of the house was expected to take several days. Workers said they had been in contact with Camden Police Department to inform officers about the anticipated time frame of the project, and to discuss any disruption to the normal flow of traffic near the site.
Though the structures on the site had been completely razed by Friday, Feb.1, a large pile of debris from the demolition was visible on the lot on Feb. 4.
Hammer told The Camden Herald in a Sept. 6, 2012, phone interview he and Crowe have donated a number of architectural components salvaged from the house and barn to Habitat for Humanity. From Chestnut Street, the view of the home's interior showed it appeared nearly gutted as of Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Hammer and Crowe wrote a letter to neighbors Aug. 21, 2012, informing them of the impending project; the couple received a demolition permit from the Town of Camden on Aug. 27, 2012.
Enclosed with the letter was a rendering of the shingle-style cottage that Crowe and Hammer intend to build on the site. The letter stated work on the site will "begin soon and progress through the remainder of fall and winter " with plans for "substantial completion sometime in late spring 2013."
It is unclear what delayed the demolition process.
The demolition permit allows for "removal of all existing structures from the location," according to the original application. Hammer said during a September interview he plans to remove all structures and the existing foundation, a decision he and Crowe reached after consulting with Maine Coast Construction and Silverio. Hammer said they drew the collective conclusion that building new — rather than attempting to salvage the existing building — would be in their "best interest."
An ensuing public outcry included a petition and numerous letters to The Camden Herald, some expressing dismay and surprise that Camden does not have guidelines in place for the preservation of historic homes.
In September, Camden Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson explained Camden has three districts included on the National Register of Historic Places — the Chestnut Street District, the High Street District and the Great Fire District.
Despite that classification, private homes in those historic districts are not explicitly protected by the town zoning ordinance, he previously said.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.