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First Parish Church (1846)
Brunswick, ME

Project

Working with architects and construction crews, EnviroVantage played a major role in the restoration of Brunswick’s First Parish Church, the building where Harriet Beecher Stowe had a vision that inspired her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and which, in succeeding decades, welcomed such visitors as Ulysses S. Grant, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Role

EnviroVantage assisted throughout the restoration process, helping to rebuild the crumbling foundation and re-coating the

building’s outside surfaces on which, over two centuries, a variety of paints had been applied.

Major Challenge

Finding a non-caustic solvent to strip the multiple coatings of paint from multiple surfaces (flat, rounded, and arched) totaling over 22,000 square feet. EnviroVantage researched and tested over a dozen chemical formulas, working with Judy Selwyn of Economics and Technology Inc. The yearlong process required many trips between Brunswick, Boston, and EnviroVantage headquarters in Epping, NH.

Process

Bare wood was sanded smooth in preparation for repainting. Surfaces unable to be stripped bare were hand (wet) sanded and then encapsulated. EnviroVantage had to find and import specialized scraping tools to fit the building’s ornate woodwork.

Safety Procedures

Employees were required to wear protective suits and masks every day, despite the summer heat, as the project demanded the highest level of safety for both the crew and the surrounding neighborhood. Air monitoring was conducted daily for all onsite employees. Air monitoring was installed within the church and outside to check the presence of contaminants (regular church service continued during the restoration) and to ensure that no harmful lead scrapings or dust escaped that could impact neighbors.

Result

EnviroVantage’s seven-person crew completed the project on time in just over four months. Its contribution to the project earned EnviroVantage a 2005 Contractors Merit Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors Merit Award.