Cast of Characters
The most noteworthy aspect of this elaborate project may well be the craftsmen themselves.
By Joshua F. Moore
An impressive undertaking at any time, the building of Paul Coulombe’s summer home had an especially big impact during a period when most Maine craftsmen were feeling the pinch of the economic recession. “This project came at a time when people were really desperate for work,” says Knickerbocker’s Steve Malcom. “For months on end we had sixty people on-site there, so there’s no doubt it pulled a lot of families through some tough times.”
Here some of the key craftsmen explain their role in the project, in their own words, and how it impacted them personally:
“Originally I was contracted to do the guesthouse fireplace, plus the sitting room floor and some work on the barn. Then we added the pool. And then the walkways, and eventually the outdoor fireplace. I’d say we averaged eight guys for about three and a half years, and we were putting in good fifty-hour weeks most of that time. When you think of all the people that got paychecks from that project, it’s pretty impressive.
“We had people coming down from the Camden area, Washington, Yarmouth. It wasn’t bad in the wintertime, but summertime on Route 1 can be tough.
“Everyone knew that your job was just as important as their job. The cooperation was phenomenal.”
Ledge Hill Creations, Inc. East Pittston, 207-458-1819
“I started on the job last November. We took the middle of December off so I could have a son, but otherwise my employee and I stayed in a rental property in downtown Boothbay Harbor.
“Tracy Davis called me about glazing the cabinets, and that’s how we got into the job. Then I think there was the study, doing the faux leather. And then they asked me to paint marble pillars in the north suite. At that point, foyer ceiling and walls were up for grabs, and there we were!
“What I liked about Paul was that he was very clear — he knew what he didn’t like. Some people don’t even know what they like, so you end up running around in circles. But I could bring him just three choices per area, and that narrowed it down really quickly.”
Chameleon Coatings, East Baldwin, 207-233-1520
Audio-visual systems installer
“There are 170 speakers on that property, but the owner didn’t want to see any of them. So we had to do things like embed them in the ceiling, and then put a credit-card thickness of plaster over them. In the octagonal wood sunroom we knew we had a real challenge, so we found a product that turns the wood itself into a transducer — it actually excites the wood. We used it there and also outside, in the cabana.
“We’ve done a lot of really nice homes, but the particular fit and finish of this house, even for Maine, was certainly among the best.
“We put about 1,800 hours into that house. My business is almost ten years old, and we were really fortunate to have a project of that size and scope, especially in this economy.”
Custom Home Theater, Brunswick, 207-373-1147
“I’ve never worked on a project with so many skilled craftsmen in all trades who saw what the opportunity was and stepped not just up to the line, but across it.
“One of the reasons that the owner ended up with the house that he did was that everything was mocked up. You could’ve built a nice house for what he spent in mockups!
“It was a great help for me and for everybody on that job site in getting us through these tough times. He couldn’t have started the project at a better time, but I heard him say that his business actually increases during a recession, so I don’t think he ever considered pulling the plug on us.”
T.J.’s Fine Woodworking, Bath, 207-443-1385