Tides Institute & Museum of Art - Masonic Building Study

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The Tides Institute & Museum of Art (TIMA) selected Machado Silvetti to assist in the renovation and adaptation of their historic Masonic Building in Eastport, Maine. TIMA’s vision for the Masonic Building is to, “allow TIMA to tell and preserve the story of the cultural legacy of their region for the first time through their remarkable collections with expanded and more appropriate exhibition and collection spaces along with a local foods cafe.” In early 2022, Machado Silvetti undertook a study for the renovation of the Masonic Building, which was then used to submit for a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant. TIMA was one of sixteen applicants in the nation awarded the grant in January 2023.

The Masonic Building is located at the key intersection of Bank Square in the heart of Eastport, Maine’s small downtown. In 1982, the building, along with 29 others in the town, were designated by the National Register of Historic Places as contributing buildings to Eastport’s Historic District. The Masonic Building was built in 1887 and designed by Boston and Saint John, New Brunswick architect, Henry Black. In the spring of 2019, the front of the Masonic Building was on the verge of outright collapse due to a severely compromised 50-foot wooden structural beam between the first and second floors. Fortunately, TIMA was able to purchase the building at this time and immediately replace the wooden structural beam with a steel beam. The ground level storefronts, which also were severely compromised, have also now been completely rebuilt as has half of the deteriorated ground level floor.

Machado Silvetti as part of this study has worked with TIMA to explore opportunities to develop the building as a multi-use space to bring activity and visibility of the collection to the street front, to be able to accommodate either a local foods restaurant or chef in residency program on the ground floor along with a museum entrance, lobby and small retail component. The ground floor is designed as an open floor plan with a new commercial grade kitchen and a flexible movable partition to allow TIMA to use the space for a variety of different events. The ground floor intervention maintains a majority of the existing historical fabric and incorporates a number of archival glass cases that reference the deep commercial storefronts that once lined the building’s ground floor and now showcase the institutions collection as a sort of cabinet of curiosities.

At the second floor, the historic Masonic Hall will be restored to allow TIMA to expand its exhibition space to better share its remarkable and diverse cultural collections that reflect the area’s rich cultural legacy. Museum support spaces are carefully incorporated at this level to fit within the original layout of rooms that create a unique octagonal space overlooking Eastport. The adjacent warehouse of the building will be used for TIMA’s collection storage. The project will add a new elevator at the intersection of the main building and the adjacent warehouse, improving the accessibility for both visitors and art movement. A new opening at this intersection will allow a direct interior connection from the main building’s Water Street entrance to the warehouse entrance on Dana, allowing museum visitors a unique glimpse into the new visible collections storage space before ascending the historic stair to the second floor exhibition space. The project also includes a new fire suppressant sprinkler system, heating system and loading dock.

TIMA - Masonic Building Study, Walkthrough Videos

Tides Institute & Museum of Art
Eastport, ME

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