Architectural History Hunt Hosted In Downtown Waterville

Members of the Waterville Historical Society board stand in front of the Waterville Gas Company building that features one of 18 clues in an Architectural History Hunt being offered through October. For forms, visit the Waterville Branch Library or visit www.watervillehistory.org. WHS board members include (from left) front row, Bob Chapman, Jim Conrad, Bill Albert and Scott Duncan; and back row, Steve Lauer and Julia Wiley. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER
The drop finial, an example of how the Gothic Revival style romanticized the Middle Ages, is one of 18 clues in the Architectural History Hunt. PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIA WILEY

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The cornices, fancy gabled trim, exposed brackets and ornamental windows that adorn homes and commercial buildings in Waterville’s historic downtown area reflect an abundance of styles.

From Colonial Revival and Craftsman to Georgian Colonial Style, Neoclassical, Second Empire and Vict-orian Italianate, Waterville boasts a rich array of architectural styles.

“If we catalogued every home in Waterville back to the 1800s, we would see virtually every style up to the present, with strong Vict-orian and Second Empire examples,” said Julia Wiley, first vice president of the Whitehouse Historical Society. 

To encourage adults and children to explore this rich and varied architecture, the WHS recently launched an Architectural History Hunt, featuring photo clues of 18 architectural details on homes and businesses within the historical downtown riverfront area up to North Fourth Street to the west. The program is in collaboration with the Waterville Branch Library.

“We want to get people out and walking around our historical district,” Wiley said. “And as long as they’re doing that, they might as well learn about each of these architectural features.”

With a background in architectural history, Wiley detailed the styles as well as their purposes, such as the exposed brackets that are decorative but also serve a purpose – holding up a roof. Others are purely ornamental, such as friezes, cornices and dentil moldings.

“Some styles, you’ll find several in one neighborhood because it’s what was popular at the time the homes were built,” said WHS president Jim Conrad. “Or sometimes, if the home was torn down, a new one was built in an updated style.”

To play the game, pick up a form from the Waterville Branch Library or download it from the Waterville Historical Society website at www.watervillehistory.org.

Find the pictured details on homes or buildings in the historical district, and write the name of the building, the business or address on the matching numbered line. Return the completed form to the Waterville Branch Library by October 15. For extra credit, identify one or more of the National Register homes in Waterville.

Those who have correctly completed the hunt can claim a custom patch that includes the Waterville Gas building.  Estimated to be as old as 1828, the building originally housed a tinsmith shop and a dentist’s office, Conrad said.

In addition to the architectural tour, the WHS has other events planned this fall, 

The WHS will, including a ghost tour of Waterville by horse-drawn trolley and a program in the Robbins House that explores the history of spiritualism. Visitors will meet and talk with a medium – someone who claims to see and speak to spirits – and others involved in the spiritualism world. 

The first tour is on Thursday, August 19 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and other tours will be offered in September and October.

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