Former elementary school back on the market

Peirce School building listed for $395,000
By Ethan Andrews | Sep 13, 2018
Photo by: Ethan Andrews The former Peirce School recently went back on the market after five years under the ownership of Midcoast Development LLC.

Belfast — A stately brick building that has been a grammar school, a music conservatory and a medical marijuana grow house is headed back to the drawing board.

The former Peirce Elementary School building at 24 Church St. recently was listed with The Masiello Group for $395,000, according to agent Penney Read.

Owner Mark Crockett, of Midcoast Development LLC, bought the building and ¾-acre lot at the corner of Church and Elm streets in 2013 for $220,000 at a public auction. It is currently assessed by the city at $360,000.

Crockett, a medical marijuana caregiver, confirmed one of Belfast's best-known secrets, that the former elementary school was the site of a caregiver growing operation during his ownership.

However, he was quick to say the grow house was a temporary use, based somewhat on the real estate market at the time.

"My ultimate goal was to do what was best for the property," Crockett said. "Now that the market's improved, and the condition (of the building) is improved, the best use for that property is not for a caregiver, but something better for the community."

Crockett, who has been fighting a recent Rockland moratorium on marijuana-related businesses that left his own application for a Main Street business in limbo, said he is hoping to see the former Peirce School used for something "boring," like condominiums or professional offices. To that end he is offering to share with the eventual buyer a set of plans he had drawn up for converting the building to condos.

"It will lend itself really well to that, with the big windows and high ceilings," he said.

The Peirce School was built in 1915 and operated as an elementary school until 2003, when School Administrative District 34 consolidated students from three small elementary schools in the newly constructed Capt. Albert Stevens School. Four years later, the city sold the building to William Ryan, who won over the City Council with his proposal to start the Belfast Academy of Music.

The fledgling academy operated for several years, offering private music lessons and concerts primarily of classical music, but it never took off. Ryan lost the building by foreclosure to mortgage holder James McClelland, who sold it at auction in 2013, where it was picked up by Crockett.

Crockett said the building has been improved in the last five years, with repairs to the plaster ceilings and an upgrade to the electrical service. Otherwise, he said, there's little evidence of its recent use.

"It's exactly like it was when I bought it," he said. "Chalkboards still on the walls."

Comments (1)
Posted by: Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Sep 18, 2018 10:22

'went to school here in 6th grade - many decades ago. My daughter started kindergarten here in 1980.

Since then, it's served for many things.

Now, Belast has yet another opportunity - which I'm confident it will not take - to establish a Youth/Community Center within walking distance for  most.

It missed the opportunity when Crosby High - where I graduated - came up for sale (I believe the city even owned it at the time?) to make an ideal youth/community center for Belfast but poohed -pooed it with such disingenuous dismissives as "the kids have a skating park- and they can congregate in their homes." (I won't go into this absurdity here.)

Way back when I was a 'youth' in Belfast, there were many choices for recreation/activity: Lucky's skating rink out in the bay, in the venerable old Steamship building; the Youth Center, a Victorian house with a tennis court, left in perpetuity for the youth and open for after school/evenngs and weekend use with such activities as pool, table tennis, dances with bands, etc, organized with committes of youth themsevles; five 'Happy Days' type soda-shops; movies at 25 cents with a pop in afterward at Whitcomps Cafe where the kids were always welcome even if all they got was a soda or a cup of hot chocolate as they sat and chatted. They were recognized as "future adult customers"...etc. Always somehere to congregate, something to do.

No so today.

Belfast had the chance with Crosby, again with Pierce some time ago, again with the Anderson School when the buildings were city owned. But money was more important. The youth of Belfast take a back seat.

Big mistake.


marion tucker-honeycutt

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