YARMOUTH, MAINE — The renovation of a historic summer “cottage” that anchors a major college campus will be the focus of a presentation Nov. 11 at Yarmouth Historical Society.

College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ’92 will offer a talk about the renovation of Turrets, completed in 2013.

“The experience of this project — from the fundraising and planning to the finishing touches — has been tremendous. The care and respect given to Turrets is a testament to its history,” Collins said. “COA, as a steward for this historic building, is particularly proud of its current state. Turrets is amazingly improved, technically and aesthetically, as the result of the recent upgrades.”

The building — the first structure in Bar Harbor to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was built in 1895 and designed by Bruce Price, architect of the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. The 2013 renovation preserved the outer envelope of the building, reconstructed two oceanside turrets and replaced windows and doors using energy-saving and historically accurate materials.

A stately stone mansion graced with views of Frenchman Bay and appointed with dark paneling and circular niches, Turrets serves as the main administration building for College of the Atlantic, providing distinctive classroom and meeting space for staff, faculty, and the college’s 350 undergraduates.

More than 100 workers spent two years building it in 1895 for John Josiah Emery of Cincinnati, who gifted it to his 18-year-old bride, Lela Alexander. Construction was a massive undertaking, and included quarrying stone from near Eagle Lake and transporting it by draft horse.

The college purchased the property from the Oblate Seminary in the early 1970s, abandoned and in disrepair and having survived the great 1947 fire that leveled scores of structures on the island.

Work began in April 2013. A crew of workers with EL Shea Inc., Hahnel Brothers Co., and Joseph Gnazzo Co. spent months replacing 99 windows, more than 20 doors, seven chimneys, and the slate roof. Also, the entire exterior of the building was repointed.

“The Turrets has been like a trusted old friend,” said architect Roc Caivano, who has been designing on the island for more than 25 years. “It survived the 1947 fire and was the place of refuge after the fire that destroyed Kaelber Hall in 1983.

The $3 million renovation of Turrets — a historic summer “cottage” that anchors the College of the Atlantic campus — will be the focus of a presentation Nov. 11 at Yarmouth Historical Society.The $3 million renovation of Turrets — a historic summer “cottage” that anchors the College of the Atlantic campus — will be the focus of a presentation Nov. 11 at Yarmouth Historical Society.

“It is significant in Bar Harbor’s history and a significant example of American residential architecture,” said Caivano, who came to COA to teach architecture and design in 1974 and has a longstanding appreciation of Turrets. COA renovated the historic treasure “just as it works to save and renew the environmental treasures around us,” he said.

This talk at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11 is free to Yarmouth Historical Society members; $5 for nonmembers.


College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit http://www.coa.edu.


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