In 2011, the Portland-based law firm, Pierce Atwood, moved from their office in Monument Square to Merrill's Wharf in the heart of the city's working waterfront.
The Cumberland Cold Storage building is a prominent feature on Portland's waterfront. It's an imposing structure, 365 feet long and made entirely of brick. During the '90s and early 2000s, this warehouse was largely abandoned and used for storage. With boarded-up windows and an open floor plan, the warehouse was not an obvious location for the Portland-based law firm Pierce Atwood. But in 2011, with managing partner Gloria Pinza at the helm, the law firm moved into the newly renovated warehouse on the Portland waterfront and the former Cumberland Cold Storage building became a hub of activity.
Pierce Atwood's move to the working waterfront of Portland was an emotional issue for some. Dennis Keeler, a partner with the firm since 1984, described some residents' feelings. "The sense was we'd be that would be sort of the end of the working waterfront, it would start the gentrification process and before you know it we'd be complaining about this and then other people would move in."
With those fears in mind, Pierce Atwood worked with the Waterfront Alliance and neighboring businesses to come up mutually beneficial solutions for the multi-use pier. Negotiations and compromises aren't always easy, especially on Portland's working waterfront. But over five years later, Pierce Atwood is still proud to be on Merrill's Wharf and lobstermen still tie their boats to the side of the pier.
Story and post by Galen Koch.
Wharfside: Stories of Portland Harbor's Working Waterfront explore the people, places, and work in Portland Harbor through photos, audio stories, and video. This project is made possible by the Waterfront Alliance and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. Produced by Galen Koch © 2016. Photos for this story by Galen Koch and Jenny Rebecca Nelson © 2016. Music for this piece provided by Ross Gallagher, Andy Cohen, and Chris Zabriskie. Animation assistance from Lake Buckley.