The building at 941 Ellis Street was constructed c. 1917 and used for several decades as space for various commercial vendors. Vacant for more than 20 years, the building had suffered from significant water damage caused by a sizable hole in the roof until Mark Donahue, a local contractor with a proven track record of rehabilitating historic buildings, purchased the building to adaptively redevelop as apartments. Original character-defining features of the building including exposed wooden trusses and beams, the rear and western windows and interior masonry details were gently cleaned and repaired. The project team made conscious alterations to the east wing of the building, where there were no existing windows. In order to comply with life safety requirements, quality of life and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, windows were cut with a small recessed porch area for each resident that are complimentary to the building but that can be understood as non-historic alterations. The rehabilitation of 941 Ellis Street has put 12 apartment units into service and is catalyzing the revitalization of the downtown block. With preservation minded individuals such as Mr. Donahue, the historic preservation option in the Augusta-Downtown Historic District remains an attractive tool with incentives for investors from all across the country and allows and provides a success story to educate and advocate for local preservation.
Excellence in Rehabilitation Awards recognize projects that make compatible use of a building through repair, alterations or additions while preserving features of the property that convey its historic value.