WESTBROOK — As he worked to close down R.G. Eaton Woodworks last week after 34 years and numerous high-profile projects, Robert Eaton was quick to note he is retiring, but not totally.
“I am not going away. I am just doing something different. I am still going to be available,” said Eaton, who will continue woodworking on a smaller scale at his Scarborough home.
Eaton started the business in 1984 in rented space at Stultz Electric on Bridge Street. A decade later, he moved to 12 Rochester St., where his business remained for close to 25 years. The building has been sold to Benoit’s Design Co., a laser cutting studio that will relocate there from the Dana Warp Mill.
“He’s really excited to be in the building,” Eaton said of Benoit’s Design Co.’s owner Greg Benoit. “I think it is great. It’s ready for a new generation.”
While Eaton, soon to be 67, is looking forward to retirement and spending more time with his family, the decision to close both his woodworking business and Stone Coast Marble and Granite, which he started in 1999, was “bittersweet,” he said.
Doug Eaton, Rob’s son and the city’s arborist, said his father’s products were customized and personalized for clients.
The work “speaks to each person individually and that is not something just anyone can say that they did,” he said in an email to the American Journal. “His business, his work was, and is, very personal for the many who (sought) him out to create their vision. He has touched many people personally with the work he has created or re-created.”
Robert Eaton said he was fortunate to have a number of longstanding employees, including his daughter, Michelle, who spent 25 years working for her dad before recently taking a job with the Portland Water District.
Steve Bartlett worked for the company on and off since 1989, most recently at Stone Coast Marble and Granite, which created countless counter tops, fireplace mantles and other projects for commercial and residential clients, he said. While Stone Coast Marble and Granite mostly served southern Maine, Bartlett said he worked on jobs as far away as Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Robert Eaton said he was also “fortunate to have a lot of nice customers over the years … and do a lot of unique things.”
Some of his notable projects, he said, included work on the clock tower at Portland City Hall; a stain glass and moldings project at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport; and work on the Paul Revere House in Boston and the Frederick Law Olmstead National Historical Site in Brookline, Massachusetts, along with projects at Bates and Colby colleges, the University of Southern Maine, and Brown and Brandeis universities.
The company has also done restoration work at Walker Memorial Library and spent four years (2015-2018) working on Hannibal Hamlin’s former home in Paris Hill, now owned by Bob Bahre. Robert Eaton also designed and built WGME’s Live Desk.
Doug Eaton said the work not only created great custom cabinets/mill work, it created even greater memories, relationships and friendships.
Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or email@example.com or on Twitter @mkelleynews.
Robert Eaton has closed his woodworking business in Westbrook, but will still dabble in woodworking and be available if customers have questions.
Robert Eaton poses with employee Steve Bartlett outside 12 Rochester St., where Eaton operated a woodworking business for close to 25 years and a marble/granite company for close to 20.