In an exciting development, Seashore Trolley Museum is now hard at work on two major building projects on Seashore’s 350-acre campus. The first new building was announced in January 2022; a building to house the Maine Central Model Railroad, which is currently located in Jonesport. Now, thanks to a very generous $1 million anonymous donation, Seashore’s oldest trolley storage building, the Burton B. Shaw South Boston carhouse, will be replaced.
After 66 years of service protecting valuable fleet cars, this carhouse is showing its age. Currently, the building is leaning and structural components are showing deterioration; replacement is the only viable option.
And it won’t be a one-for-one replacement. The current South Boston houses six trolleys—if one car on each track is shorter than normal. The front of the carhouse is wide open, subjecting the first car on each track to weather damage. The new building is being sized to hold nine full-size trolleys, three on each track. Roll-up doors will provide full weather protection on each track. The interior will feature a concrete floor up to rail height and the design will be clear span with no poles between the tracks.
The origin of the South Boston name refers to the yard track that feeds into the current carhouse, sourced from North Point Carhouse in South Boston, MA. After streetcar service to South Boston was abandoned in 1953, Seashore volunteers bought the nearly-new track from the contractor demolishing North Point. They reassembled the track at Seashore in 1955. As part of this building project, this historic track from South Boston will also be preserved and used in the yard leading up to the new carhouse.
It is anticipated that the new South Boston will house primarily operating fleet cars; the trolleys that operate for the public each day the museum is open. To help preserve these very important trolleys, the building will be insulated to slow temperature and humidity changes, and installation of heat/air conditioning units is being investigated. The concrete floor will make walking through the building easier for both visitors and volunteer trolley operating crews.
The new carhouse will be a pre-engineered Butler building with a sturdy steel frame and corrugated steel sheets for siding and roof. The museum is working with Fairfield, Maine-based Sheridan Construction, experts in design build projects. Sebago Technics (South Portland) is providing the site and civil engineering for the building. RW Gillespie (Biddeford) is providing geotechnical services. The new building is currently in the pre-construction phase, with the goal to begin construction in September 2022.
Seashore Trolley Museum would like to thank the Town of Kennebunkport for waiving the permit fees for this project, as well as their model railroad building project, which likely would have surpassed $40,000. In exchange, for the next five seasons the museum will continue to allow tour buses visiting the town to park at the museum, alleviating traffic in Dock Square. The museum will also continue to host Kennebunkport Parks & Recreation and Kennebunkport Public Health groups for free, and will offer discounted admission for Kennebunkport residents on general admission days.