Looking Back

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Saint Mary’s Catholic Parish was organized in 1916 and purchased a house and land at 631 Main St. In 1917 a two-story brick building was built at the rear of the property. The first floor was used as a church and the second floor became St. Mary’s Parochial School. The original house at the front of the lot became the rectory and a two-story brick building was constructed next to the rectory to serve as a convent for the nuns that taught in the school. The rectory was eventually demolished and in 1973 a new church, shown here, was built on Main Street next to the convent. The school eventually closed, the nuns were transferred to another parish and the convent became the rectory. The diocese decided to disband St. Mary’s Parish and the buildings were sold to Legacy Publishing Company. This building was demolished to add additional parking for the business. The Rectory was sold and is now a private residence. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon, and the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., September-June. Inquiries can be emailed to westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.

July 15, 1992

If you see the movie “Far and Away,” be sure to sit through the film credits for the name Beverly Burton. A Hollywood set operator, Beverly hails from the Duck Pond Road area in Westbrook and was home recently for her brother’s wedding when she shared bits of her interesting career. “Far and Away,” the box office hit starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kiddman, is a romantic epic that takes place during the Oklahoma land rush. On location in Montana for three months, Beverly learned about prairie life first hand. Besides 15-hour days, the film crew had the elements to contend with, including a resident tornado. As set operator, Beverly served as liaison between departments or, in her words, “making things work on the set.” Beverly’s mother, June Burton, visited Beverly on location in Montana and enjoyed watching the scenes being shot.

A new policy limiting the Westbrook school superintendent’s power to spend money will be exercised tonight for $73,432 in purchases. Under the policy passed March 11, any purchase over $2,500 requires a majority vote of the School Committee. Previously, once the School Committee passed the annual budget, the superintendent was given discretion to make purchase on his own.

The Unitrode Corp. has sold its semiconductor division, which formerly operated a factory in Westbrook. But the vacant Westbrook plant didn’t go as part of the sale, the company said yesterday. Unitrode stripped all equipment out of the building after its 1989 closure.

In years past, students’ progress was measured solely on their performance on standardized exams. For the past two years all this has been changing in the Gorham school system, and thanks to a grant from the New American Schools Development Corp., many old educational trends will be questioned, improved or cast away. Gorham is one of four school systems included in a group, named the Authentic Teaching, Learning and Assessment for all Students. Sixty schools applied to be a part of the group. Gorham has started a system in which students develop a portfolio of their best work, which will theoretically follow hem from grade school through high school.

The Gorham exercise trail was formally dedicated Saturday morning to school nurse Claire Drew in an effort to recognize the woman who was instrumental in the creation of the trail. In September 1984, the Town Council approved the exercise and jogging trail to be located on town land behind the municipal center and Narragansett School.

Westbrook’s native son, the Rev. Homer Larsen, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio pastor of the Christian Crusaders Radio Program heard every Sunday on WGAN radio, will present a sermon at Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook on July 19. Larson graduated from Westbrook High School in 1942.

July 17, 2002

In a somewhat bizarre turn of events Monday, Paul Volle, the head of the Christian Coalition of Maine, urged the Westbrook City Council to pass a gay rights ordinance without delay  “so the citizens can get the signatures we need to have a referendum question (overturning it) on the ballot in November,” said Volle, a Knight Street resident. “Get out of the way and let the citizens to their job.” After listening to more than two hours of mixed comments about the proposed ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, credit, public accommodations and employment, the council unanimously followed Volle’s advice and gave the law first reading approval.

Nghia Huynh has opened his new Chinese and Thai Foods stand downtown on Main Street, across from Rite Aid. “I’m a one-man operation,” the 25-year-old restaurateur said. “I need to work quickly so my customers don’t have to wait.” The mix of Chinese and Thai cuisine has been quickly becoming a Main Street favorite since Huynh opened his trailer-mounted stall four weeks ago.

Jerre Bryant is moving to Westbrook. The City Council on Monday approved Mayor Donald E. Esty Jr.’s nomination of Bryant as the city’s new administrative assistant to the mayor, a position left vacant this winter when James Bennett left to manage Lewiston. Bryant, 48, served for 10 years as South Portland’s city manager following five years as assistant manager. Six years ago he left the public sector to manage the Maine Mall. “My real passion has always been with local government,” said Bryant, a 1976 graduate of Colby College.

Like most of the suburban communities of Portland, Gorham has been struggling to keep pace with growth, with building permit requests more than doubling since 1995. Last month, the Town Council adopted a new ordinance that will allow the imposition of impact fees on new residential housing, and earlier this month, the Planning Board gave a nod of approval to the first of those fees, designed to help defray the cost of a new 900-student middle school. The Town Council is expected to consider the middle school impact fee in the near future.

The Westbrook Fraternal Order of Eagles, 2977 Ladies Auxiliary recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of their original charter in Westbrook. Over the years, they have worked hard on their annual charity drives. They raise funds to help those affected by diseases and they address issues such as drug and child abuse, the elderly and those with mental illness. The anniversary was celebrated with a dinner dance and special ceremony.

Ralph Dibacco, who lives with his wife Carol in Friendly Village in Gorham, is working on an independent film with his brother Kevin, titled “Split Second,” which will be entered in the Sundance Film Festival competition. Production of the 10-minute film, which Ralph wrote, started June 1 and is expected to be wrapped up this month. After that comes the editing, done by Kevin.

Saint Mary’s Catholic Parish was organized in 1916 and purchased a house and land at 631 Main St. In 1917 a two-story brick building was built at the rear of the property. The first floor was used as a church and the second floor became St. Mary’s Parochial School. The original house at the front of the lot became the rectory and a two-story brick building was constructed next to the rectory to serve as a convent for the nuns that taught in the school. The rectory was eventually demolished and in 1973 a new church, shown here, was built on Main Street next to the convent. The school eventually closed, the nuns were transferred to another parish and the convent became the rectory. The diocese decided to disband St. Mary’s Parish and the buildings were sold to Legacy Publishing Company. This building was demolished to add additional parking for the business. The Rectory was sold and is now a private residence. To see more historical photos and artifacts, visit the Westbrook Historical Society at the Fred C. Wescott Building, 426 Bridge St. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon, and the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., September-June. Inquiries can be emailed to westhistorical@myfairpoint.net. The website is www.westbrookhistoricalsociety.org.