Looking Back

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Local businessman John C. Scates built this three-story brick building on Main Street, opposite Bridge Street, in 1903. (He bought the previous building there, the Presumpscot House, in 1902 and moved it to Fitch Street so he could build anew.) Some of the early tenants in addition to the Scates Company were the U.S. Post Office, city offices and Temple Lodge 86 AF&AM. There was a bowling alley in the basement. The Masonic Corporation eventually bought the building and sold it to the Urban Renewal Authority, which had been leasing space on the second floor, in 1977. The building was the last in the city slated for urban renewal demolition and residents took their protests to City Hall. During one such meeting in 1981, a contractor punched a hole in the back the building, damaging it beyond repair and thus securing its fate. 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

Oct. 7, 1992

Public Cable Co. intends to close its office at 838 Main St., Westbrook. The city claims it can’t under the franchise agreement. The city wants monetary damages, on grounds Public Cable hasn’t provided the kind of office it should. Public Cable again disagrees. A letter from Jeffrey B. Darrell, Public Cable’s vice president, to Peter Eckel, administrative assistant to Mayor Fred Wescott, says, “The idea that the city would present its concerns and yet offer to completely forget them for the outrageous sum of $160,000 is a subject which we believe raises the appearance of some possible impropriety.”

Mr. and Mrs. Richard M. Dunbar, 214 Rochester St., Westbrook, were honored on their 50th wedding anniversary on Father’s Day, June 21. Their children and grandchildren gathered with them for dinner in a Portland restaurant. They were surprised by the presence of Mrs. Dunbar’s sister, Annette Wendling and her husband LeRoy and daughter Elizabeth. Lucille Day and Richard Dunbar were married on Father’s Day, June 21, 1942, in the Westbrook Universalist Church by the Rev. Harry Townsend. Richard retired last year as superintendent of Parks and Cemeteries for the city of Westbrook.

Also recently celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary were Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Lachance, Winter Haven, Fla., and formerly of Westbrook. Rita Ricard and Raymond Lachance were married Sept. 12, 1942, in Holy Family Church in Sanford. The celebration was held in the home of their daughter and son-in-law, Sandra and Chipper Allen, formerly of Gorham and now of Winter Haven.

Alice Mains, South Street in Gorham, and Janice Eppihimer have been pen pals 43 years, since Alice’s older brother Irving Smith introduced Alice, 14, to Janice, 15, through letters when Irving was studying agriculture in Pennsylvania. Alice and husband Ken have visited with Janice and husband Clifford at their Douglassville, Pennsylvania, home three times, but the Eppihimers have never been to Maine. That changed Sept. 20, when they arrived for their first visit. Alice and Ken treated them to a lobster feed, a drive to Kennebunkport, a trip to Rangeley and the White Mountains, and a visit to Two Lights and Portland Head Light.

Westbrook’s City Council voted itself into a closed-door meeting Monday to talk about two things: S.D. Warren Co. legal action and contract negotiations. The city is in a drawn-out fight with the big paper mill’s owners over the taxable value of the Warren mill

Oct. 9, 2002

The idea of a casino in Westbrook got a quiet reception from the Westbrook City Council Monday night. Councilor John O’Hara, who raised the possibility at a recent meeting, wanted the Community and Economic Development Committee, which he chairs, to discuss the potential economic effect of bringing a casino to Westbrook. But councilors weren’t ready to talk about it. “The state is already studying this issue. I’d hate to see us duplicate anything they do,” said Councilor Brendan Rielly.

Howard Worster has been constructing and running the month-long Haunted Hayride in the back fields of the Rust Farm in Gorham for the last 11 years. Last weekend marked the opening of the thrill-filled ride through acres of haunted farmland, and people came from miles away – Alfred, Biddeford, Lewiston and beyond – driving through gathering dusk with children swaddled in fleeces and hats, wide-eyed with excitement. Typically, the trip to terror takes about 40 minutes and snakes through fields and woods booby trapped with monsters and mayhem. Thirty-five to 40 people can be squeezed onto a rattling hay wagon pulled by rumbling tractors.

Michael Kane, Westbrook’s assistant school superintendent, will travel next week to Uzbekistan, where he will lead an international team of educators in rating and accrediting a high school. For the past 28 years, Kane has volunteered with the New England School and College Council, which accredits high schools and colleges in New England. Typically, the New England council is the organization tapped to accredit foreign schools, Kane said. Uzbekistan is bordered by Iran and Afghanistan. “It’s poor, but Uzbekistan is actually a stable country right now and is not in a state of upheaval,” Kane said. “It just happens to be bordered by two countries that are experiencing some conflict.”

Dale Meggison, a Gorham carpenter, accidentally cut off four of his fingers in late September and was airlifted to a Boston hospital to have them reattached. Doctors were able to reattach three of his fingers, and now say he can expect to recover up to 80 percent of their use. He has a lot of therapy ahead, but Meggison is said to be in good spirits.

After escaping his cage and leaping from a pickup truck driven by his owner into busy Route 25 traffic Thursday morning in Westbrook, Ace the cat returned home, crying at the door of Demo and Jan Gistis, 85 East Valentine St., Westbrook, at about 4 a.m. Friday. Jan said they hunted all day Thursday for Ace, a handsome, 8-year-old black and white cat. They were taking Ace to a vet when the incident occurred about 2 miles from the Gistis residence. Jan said of Ace’s escapade, “It’s amazing. Ace takes good care of himself. He’s our baby.”

Local businessman John C. Scates built this three-story brick building on Main Street, opposite Bridge Street, in 1903. (He bought the previous building there, the Presumpscot House, in 1902 and moved it to Fitch Street so he could build anew.) Some of the early tenants in addition to the Scates Company were the U.S. Post Office, city offices and Temple Lodge 86 AF&AM. There was a bowling alley in the basement. The Masonic Corporation eventually bought the building and sold it to the Urban Renewal Authority, which had been leasing space on the second floor, in 1977. The building was the last in the city slated for urban renewal demolition and residents took their protests to City Hall. During one such meeting in 1981, a contractor punched a hole in the back the building, damaging it beyond repair and thus securing its fate. 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