AUBURN — There is something about the Charles A. Jordan House at 63 Academy St. that draws the eye.
Built in 1880, the imposing, three-story home with its iconic square tower is considered one of the most ornate Victorian houses in the area. And gazing upon it, one is not inclined to argue.
The house was designed by Charles A. Jordan, who also designed Edward Little High School, the Avon Mill and many private properties.
The Jordan House has a storied past and an uncertain but hopeful future. It has been added to the 2019 list of Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Places, a designation that may help the owners restore it to its former glory.
In 1974, the Jordan House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. By that time, the house had already been known by several different names: the Deacon French House and the Academy House among them.
Locally, though, most people know it as the Jordan House, and the building is no less impressive now than it was when it went up in 1880, although it is considerably worse for wear.
In 2018, it was serving as a rooming house when somebody torched it before dawn. It was nearly destroyed.
The top floor and attic were consumed in flames as firefighters from Auburn and Lewiston battled the blaze from ladder trucks and from the street below. As fire ate away at the building, local residents gathered to watch as the distinctive mansard roof was consumed.
Fire crews stopped the blaze before it could burn the house to the ground, but damage was extensive and without help, the house might have been lost.
“Quick action by the owners temporarily shored up the roof and stabilized the structure,” according to Maine Preservation, “but considerable and timely restoration efforts must be made to halt further deterioration, and to make the building habitable.”
An Auburn man was later charged with arson.
The Lebrun family has owned the house since 1945 and hopes to rehabilitate it completely.
According to Maine Preservation: “The Charles A. Jordan House requires immediate investment. As an income-producing property, it is eligible for federal and state historic tax credits. The owners hope that the rehabilitated structure, which holds a place in the hearts of many Auburn residents, will once again serve the needs of the community.”
The group has been releasing its Maine’s Most Endangered Historic Places list since 1996 “to focus positive statewide media attention and boost local efforts to protect a broad range of threatened places throughout the state.”
To learn more, see mainepreservation.org