The Dr. Welcome Pray Property at 15 N. River Road
Late last year the Waterville Historical Society was the recipient of a wonderful gift of the historic Waterville Gas Company building on River Road in Waterville from Rob Black, President and Todd Black, Secretary Treasurer of the Waterville Gas Company. At the time of the donation the Blacks expressed their desire that the building be preserved and maintained. Due to the fact that the Gas Company building (Real Estate Tax Record—9 N. River; Street Address—13 N. River) and its neighbor (Real Estate Tax Record—11 N. River; Street Address—15 N. River) occupy the same lot, both properties were given to us as a package deal.
Both buildings are historically significant. The Gas Company building dates to circa 1827 and, at one time, housed a tinsmith and dentist prior to becoming the headquarters of the Waterville Gas & Oil Company. Its next door neighbor became the property of Dr. Welcome Pray in 1835 and, more recently, was the longtime home of Waterville resident Ernest Blauvelt and family.
We initially considered the possibility of restoring both properties to their former appearance and utilizing them as museums. While the Gas Company building is in near pristine condition, we remain committed to fulfilling that goal. Unfortunately, the Welcome Pray property has suffered from years of decay and will require total gutting and rehab.
Faced with the extensive cost of restoration versus selling the property to help restore and maintain our other properties (Sargent and Robbins Houses; Wakeman Hall; Cobbler Shop) as well as providing other services and programs to the community, we chose the latter.
We are in the process of dividing the two parcels to facilitate sale of the Pray property. We were approached by a potential buyer committed to rehabbing the building for residential rental.
It is important to realize that the building lies within Waterville’s Historical Overlay District. Consequently, strict regulations apply to maintaining the external appearance and historical significance of the home. (See Chapter 1157.01: Statement of Purpose of the Waterville Code.)
We remain committed to our mission statement—“to encourage the preservation of historic buildings.”
Most sincerely, Jim Conrad, President