Region 8 building dismantled, yet its circuitous tale of origin remains a Rockland foundation

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 12:00pm

ROCKLAND — David Hoch knows the Region 8 building well. In fact, he and another Rockland resident owned it for a time, well before students learned to feel a pulse, oil a carburetor, or flambée a dessert.

The building, now known as the Midcoast School of Technology, established in 1975, is in the process of being torn down, now that a new school building has been constructed a few feet away.

Hoch is avoiding watching the tear-down of the building that was a part of a series of events in his life that eventually grew another Rockland business.

For him, the dates and details are hazy, yet the overall stories remain vivid in his memory.

It goes something like this:

Long ago, the State of Maine wanted to bring industry to the Midcoast. They constructed a building and welcomed a fiber glass boat company. The boat company dropped anchored within, set up shop, and then, one week later, hauled anchor, and left – taking their moldings with them.

The building sat empty for a number of years, until, one day, Hoch suggested to his friend Martin Olson that the two of them should buy the building and fill it with companies.

Olson is known locally for another entrepreneur venture that, despite a few hiccups along the way, has stood strong through time. He bought the Samoset Resort. And then, all of a sudden, it burned down, Oct. 13, 1972.

“I will build it back up again,” said Hoch, repeating Olson’s vow.

And he did. With Hoch in tow, Olson traveled to Portland, where a grain mill was being dismantled. Olson purchased the timber and returned with train-loads of material. He designed the new Samoset and laid the floors and main structure with granary wood, to re-open Sept. 9, 1974.

When the idea of buying the building that would one day become a vocational school, the two friends traveled west, to Augusta, with Olson doing the talking.

“What are you asking for it,” Olson asked the state.

$300,000, was the reply.

“We’ll take it,” said Olson.

No bargaining. No debating. Nothing, according to Hoch.

With the two as owners, a naval architect named Henry Scheel came along. He’d been wanting to move to Rockland, bringing with him his manufacturing business of 45-foot sailing vessels. Yet, Shield Yachts only wanted to rent a portion of the property. Hoch and Olson couldn’t fill the rest of the space, and their venture went bankrupt before any rent was ever paid.

Somewhere along the way, the building was no longer under their ownership, possibly back to the State, though that’s one of the hazy details.

Now entering the picture is Hoch’s brother, Wes. Wes didn’t have anything to do with the venture, but he, too, ended up bankrupt. And, when necessity starts to chafe, innovation creeps along.

Wes learned that the local fishermen wanted larger dories, so, he set about manufacturing larger dories. Where was the best place to find wood? From a shack at the dump.

From there, a business grew. North End Marine became the largest boat production of the time, with Shield Yacht being it’s best customer.

Scheel Yacht eventually bought out North End Marine, and began operating from the Nautica Building, the largest building in the industrial park.

All originating from a shack at the dump, which originated with luring a naval architect to Rockland, by way of a certain building on South Main Street.

No industry ever sprouted from the building, as the State had intended. Yet, in a circuitous route, one could argue that the building managed to sprout forth the seed of industry from start to finish. 

And beyond.

The same school system that cultivated industry in the minds of youth for more than 40 years from the halls of fiber glass and sail will begin afresh. The new building on the same property will take the hard earned lessons of yore, combine it with current needs of the region, and sail, steam, and motor into the future.

Midcoast School of Technology has a website dedicated to the construction of the new school building. http://www.mcst2019.org/

Click here for a biography of Henry Scheel and his patented Scheel Keel.

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com