2015-11-13 / Front Page

Wait is over

Residents, town agree on mansion plans
By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer


The Cape Elizabeth Town Council renewed its commitment to preserving the remnants of Goddard Mansion, located in Fort Williams Park, adopting a formal policy to that effect at its Nov. 4 meeting. (Russ Lunt courtesy photo) The Cape Elizabeth Town Council renewed its commitment to preserving the remnants of Goddard Mansion, located in Fort Williams Park, adopting a formal policy to that effect at its Nov. 4 meeting. (Russ Lunt courtesy photo) CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Elizabeth town council has announced its intent to preserve the remains of the old Goddard Mansion at Fort Williams Park by continuing to invest in stabilization efforts.

At its Nov. 4 meeting, the council adopted a formal policy stating that the mansion, a victim of disrepair and vandalism throughout most of the 20th century, should continue to stand “in a safe manner.”

"This will eliminate some of the debate, the dialogue, the conjecture," said Councilor Jim Walsh, who is liaison to the Fort Williams Advisory Commission.

"What you have here is clarity that will go a long way in giving direction," he said.

The decision follows on the heels of a poll sent to residents in this year's tax bills, in which 51.7 percent of respondents (410 people) took a similar position. Meanwhile, 28.1 percent (223) said the mansion remnants should be sold to a private developer, while 12.9 percent (102) said the structure should be torn down.

Built between 1853 and 1859, the former home of Civil War Col. John Goddard became home to non-commissioned offi- cers stationed at Fort Williams in 1900. But it was in serious disrepair by the time the town took over the site in 1964 and the local fire department gutted the inside of the building in 1981 as a safety precaution. The remaining walls became something of an attraction at the park, for tourists and locals alike, until 2009, when $6,000 in fencing was installed to keep people away for fear the walls might come down.

Preservation of the Goddard Mansion has been a perennial bullet point on the town council's list of annual goals. Costs for maintaining the site in its current state average $5,000 per year, according to Town Manager Michael McGovern.

Another survey question included in this year’s tax bill asked residents if they want to save the former Spurwink School, an old one-room schoolhouse that formed part of Thomas Memorial Library, until recent renovation efforts. More than half of respondents — 52 percent of the 807 who replied —said they would like to see the building saved for public use. Town Manager McGovern said he has already taken action, polling department heads and school officials for a report he will present to the council in December.

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