Historic Orono Building Demolished 

A landmark building in Orono was demolished Tuesday.Most recently the structure had housed apartments. But after fire gutted the inside in June, folks knew it would never be the same.”It’s quite a bit of history there,” says resident Frank Morrison.The Katahdin building has stood in Orono since the late 1800’s, but was so devastated after the fire that it had to be demolished as a matter of safety.”We’ve had the structural engineers tell us there’s just no way, the damage was just too massive to save any part of it. So we know it has to come down,” says Jennifer Dudley. She and her husband have owned the apartment building since 2001. They watched with mixed feelings Tuesday.”There’s a lot of sadness, because we were always really proud to own the building,” she says.For the many folks that gathered, this building has always been a landmark.”It’s just been around forever,” says Marlene Doucette, president of the historical society. “On Mill Street, there was a brick factory and the first bricks they made were put into the building.”Frank Morrison was born and raised on Mill Street. “It’s just hard to believe,” Morrison said, as he watched a wall come down. “They used to have a restaurant downstairs. Out in the front downstairs there used to be a shoe repair, Ben’s shoe repair,” he says.Through the years the structure grew and changed, housing various groups.”A men’s club called the Katahdin, which is where it got its name,” Dudley says. “It had the town’s first public library, it had a bank. Some of the bank vaults actually were still inside, some of the tenants got a kick out of that.”The crowd was silent as structure’s front brick wall came down. The owners say they don’t yet know what they’ll do with the property. “I hope they rebuild an apartment complex. They need it,” Morrison says.No matter what becomes of this space, an effort is being made to preserve some of its history.”We’ve been promised a few bricks and some of the granite,” says Doucette.Dudley says all of the building’s tenants have found new housing, at least temporarily. Everyone made it out safely during the fire, which was ruled an accident.The site should be cleared by Wednesday evening.