Project information

  • Renovation 45,000 sf

  • Office addition 5,600 sf; sallyport addition 900 sf

  • Construction cost $9.5M

  • Completed 2003


2003 Statewide Historic Preservation Honor Award, Maine Preservation

Lewiston, ME


The brick façade of the Frye Music Hall was hidden behind metal panels during the building’s retail and warehouse decades. No one knew how much of the decorative brick work remained until the demolition began.

Fitting the courthouse program into the historic building meant tightening circulation and lobbies. This 2nd-floor lobby is enlivened by a stained-glass percent-for-art divider.

PDT took advantage of original architectural features whenever possible. The benches came from St. Mary’s Church during its conversion to the Franco-American Heritage Center.

The design of the family courtroom de-emphasizes division, with all parties in an arc at equal distance from the bench.

Frye Block circa 1999. Photo courtesy of PDT Architects.

The 1877 Frye Music Hall, “the best opera house east of Boston,” after the Blizzard of 1888. Courtesy Lewiston Historical Society.

Conversion of the Frye Music Hall into Lewiston District Court enabled the city to revitalize a historic building and keep the court and its valuable daytime activity downtown.

The historic Frye Block Music Hall, designed by John A. Fox of Boston, had been used as a plumbing supply warehouse for decades, its ornate brick facade hidden behind metal paneling. To encourage downtown development, the city sold the building to the state for a dollar, and PDT was asked to fit the courthouse program into the shell.

The first floor comprises offices and public windows, with the DA’s office in a small addition. Entirely separate circulations for prisoners, staff, and the public ensure security.

Four courtrooms dominate the second and third floors, with the library, judges’ chambers, transaction windows, and a children’s playroom.

Photo credit: ©

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