Gilman Place has structurally preserved and bestowed new life into a vacant neighborhood treasure, while repurposing it as affordable workforce housing for area families. Development of the former Gilman School was made possible in part by the state and federal historic tax credits, and the building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Historic preservation is a particularly important component of a smart growth development philosophy in Maine: not only do we believe that “the greenest building is the one the doesn’t have to be built,” but Maine is blessed with a stock of these unique and impossible to replicate structures, many of which can be reconceived for decades more of useful life.
Gilman Place, winner of the 2011 Maine Preservation Honor Award, houses 35 affordable apartments in walking distance from the city’s award winning downtown. Gilman Place is an example of smart growth development simultaneously addressing two concerns many Waterville residents shared: how to preserve and reuse the former Gilman School as well as the need for more quality apartments in Waterville. Through partnerships with neighbors, local city officials and state agencies, Gilman Place offers individuals making less than $20,000 per year or a family of four making less than $36,000 per year the ability to live in a convenient neighborhood in one of central Maine’s historic industrial cities.
In a recent newspaper interview, City Manager Mike Roy said of Gilman Place, “Were it not for the Gilman Place project, we’d be faced with another empty building,” Roy said. “I just think the rehabilitation of that building is one of the best success stories in the city in the last 25 years. I really do.”