Harraseeket Historic District (HHD)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the HHD?
The HHD is a precisely-defined area of Freeport which has been included in the National Register of Historic Places as a “Historic District.” In the words of the National Register of Historic Places, a Historic District “possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development.”
In other words, a Historic District is a neighborhood, or series of neighborhoods, which can be tied together through common characteristics–including architectural style, historic period of occupation, ethnic affiliation, or occupational use.
What is Freeport Historical Society (FHS) doing?
FHS is undertaking an update to the HHD documentation. Since the survey of resources was first conducted in the 1970s, and updated in the 1990s, there have been changes both to the registration forms required by the National Register, but also to the properties themselves. Some properties have been altered, of which some may now be ineligible for historic status. Some structures will have been demolished, and new structures have been erected.
What is the Role of the Town of Freeport?
The Town of Freeport is generously providing funding for the project. The results will be made available to the Town Planner’s office and to the Town Council for long-term planning in Freeport.
What are the Boundaries of the HHD?
The HHD covers some 3,000 acres in the area of Freeport surrounding the Harraseeket River. It includes the communities of South Freeport, Mast Landing and Porter’s Landing, as well as Staples Point and Wolfe’s Neck. A notable exclusion is Flying Point. The boundaries of the HHD were established in 1977, when the district was submitted to the National Register for inclusion, and are precise, discriminating between individual properties.
How were the boundaries of the HHD established?
FHS was responsible for establishing the boundaries of the district in 1977. The boundaries were chosen to create an area that met the criteria of the National Register, i.e. an area with unifying characteristics. In this case, the unifying feature of the district is the relationship with the Harraseeket River, whether that be through saltwater farming, brickmaking, the mast trade, or shipbuilding. Flying Point, for example, was considered a distinct community with a different history which could merit inclusion in a separate district.
What’s in a Historic District?
The National Register defines four categories of historic properties: buildings, structures, objects and sites.
A building, such as a house, barn, church, hotel, or similar construction, is created principally to shelter any form of human activity.
The term “structure” is used to distinguish from buildings those functional constructions made usually for purposes other than creating human shelter (e.g. fences, lighthouses, gazebos, grain silos).
The term “object” is used to distinguish from buildings and structures those constructions that are primarily artistic in nature or are relatively small in scale and simply constructed (e.g. monuments, statues, road signs)
A site is the location of a significant event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined, or vanished, where the location itself possesses historic, cultural, or archeological value regardless of the value of any existing structure (e.g. battlefield, cemetery, shipwreck, ruin).
For more information, see the National Register website.
I have an historic property in Freeport–Why isn’t it in the district?
The HHD is confined to a specific geographic area. Properties outside that area are not included in this update work. Freeport does contain one other historic district, the Upper Main Street Historic District, which covers a small portion of Main Street. In addition, FHS did undertake a survey of all historic structures in Freeport in 1973-4, which is available at the FHS archives for viewing. A number of properties in Freeport are included on the National Register without being in either Historic District.
Are you planning to enlarge the district? Or create new historic districts in the future?
Perhaps. One of the purposes of the update is to consider both the period of significance and the areas of significance for the district (currently defined as 18th-19th century shipbuilding, mast trade and agriculture). The results of this update work will allow us to determine whether enlargement (or even contraction) of the HHD is appropriate. It is also possible that we might decide to create additional Historic Districts in the future, or undertake a general update to our survey of historic properties in Freeport. However, there are no firm plans to do so at this time.
How can I help?
You can assist in the HHD update in a number of ways. For residents of the HHD, the most basic means of assistance is simply to cooperate with our two consultants – Mac Collins and Robin Haynes. Additionally, we’re always interested in information you might have about the history of your home (especially documented history). Please get in touch if you have information to share.
We’re also looking for volunteers who might be able to help research the history of particular structures. Since this will involve detailed examination of town records and other historic documents, some previous experience of historical research is necessary. Please contact FHS if you’d like to be a researcher.
I live in the HHD. Is my property in the National Register of Historic Places?
Not necessarily. Every resource within the district is evaluated to determine if it contributes or does not contribute to the significance of the Historic District. Individual resources in the HHD are considered listed in the National Register if they are “contributing” to the character of the district. To find out if your building or structure is considered a “contributing structure”, contact FHS.
What does it mean if my house is included in the HHD / the National Register?
Inclusion in the HHD or even in the National Register does not place any restrictions on property-owners. While we encourage owners of historic properties to be careful stewards of their properties, there are no local ordinances, or state or federal laws restricting your use of your historic property. FHS is happy to consult with owners of historic homes on the best way to make alterations or improvements in a manner that preserves the historic nature of the structure. Please contact FHS for more information.
There are both state and local tax credits available for income-generating historic properties to be rehabilitated. Contact the Maine Historic Preservation Commission for more information.
Where can I learn more?
Christi Mitchell, Historic Preservationist (207) 287-1453