BANGOR – The almost century-old building at 81 Park St., once the longtime residence of the prestigious Tarratine Club, is being made into a private home.
While plans for use of the three-story brick building still are in the formative stage, new owners Tricia and Bob Quirk of Hampden are going to live in the upper floors and may use the first floor for office space.
“It was a long thought process of being excited about it and thinking carefully and cautiously,” Tricia Quirk said Tuesday about their plan to purchase the historic building. “We finally decided, almost eight or nine months after our original interest, that we would go forward with it.”
The couple will be moving into their new home in the fall.
The Quirks decided to buy the building in March after a chance tour last summer of the structure. Tricia Quirk, a real estate agent, had an appointment to show the building to some clients. When the clients canceled, she called her husband, Bob Quirk, part owner of Quirk Auto Park in Bangor, and the two got their first look at the place where Bangor’s elite congregated for most of the 20th century.
Architectural firm Parker and Thomas of Boston built the structure, distinguished for its Harvard brick and terra cotta trim, in 1907. The building was the home of the Tarratine Club, an upscale social club whose 100 original members, according to legend, were able to write million-dollar checks.
The club, founded in 1884, always employed caterers and cooks to prepare meals for members in between their games of cards and pool. The club first met in rooms in a building known as the Hatch Block, once located on the west side of Main Street across from what is now the Maine Discovery Museum.
Hannibal Hamlin, former governor of Maine and U.S. vice president under Abraham Lincoln, was the first president of the club.
“The Tarratine Club was a very exclusive businessman’s club,” Bangor Code Enforcement Officer Dan Wellington said. “In its heyday, if you were a prominent Bangor businessman, you probably belonged to the Tarratine Club.”
The club’s building was taken over by the USO during World War II and was returned to the club after the war. The organization flourished. Even into the mid-1980s, the club still had cooks on staff and regular classical concerts.
A Bangor native, Tricia Quirk said she is well aware of the historical significance of her new home.
“It’s very intriguing to us, and we feel lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty of it and the historical aspects,” Quirk said. “There are present [Tarratine Club] members that I know and several past members that I’ve known.
“People have approached me with memories of the building, of weddings and receptions, or just several men that played cards there and enjoyed the club,” she said.
The club was forced to sell the building in 1991 after years of declining membership and funds. The structure was bought by Kork Systems, a Bangor-based software company. That company changed hands twice more, and eventually the building was put up for sale in 2003.
That’s when the Quirks first saw the building. Because of its significant place in Bangor’s history, the building is on the local historical register, and no renovations can be made to the outside of the structure.
Legally, the Quirks can do whatever they want to the inside, but they plan on preserving the interior as well.
“The previous owner, Terry Keating, had restored the building beautifully,” Quirk said. “He brought back some original features, and our plans are to keep it original as possible, doing very little in terms of reconstruction.”