Chapter History

History of a Company

WBRC Architects Engineers

Bangor, ME

WBRC Architects Engineers of Bangor, Maine will celebrate its 110th year in 2012, a fabulous and stellar feat by many standards in today’s world of business start ups and failures.

The history of this long lived company is condensed from a beautiful book that was published in 2002, to celebrate their 100th anniversary. It would be hard in this Historical review to add more than has already been printed by others. The purpose here is to broaden the readership so that those who already know WBRC can appreciate their longevity and for those who don’t know them, in places far away from Maine, can appreciate WBRC, like the Penobscot River that runs along it, the city which extends its steadiness and determinedness.

C. Parker Crowell and John F. Thomas started Thomas & Crowell in 1902. Although C. Parker Crowell was an Architect and the first AIA member from Maine, his degree was in mechanical engineering from the University of Maine in Orono.

During his career, Crowell helped build over 1000 buildings across the state of Maine. At the University of Maine in Orono alone, he and his partner Walter Lancaster designed over forty four of the buildings on campus.

When most of downtown Bangor, Maine was destroyed by fire in 1911, including Crowell’s and Lancaster’s offices, they would design many of the new buildings and structures that would be built after the fire’s destruction.

Walter Lancaster, who worked with Crowell, became a partner in 1937 and stayed until his retirement in 1968.

In 1952, Ambrose Higgins joined Crowell and Lancaster as a partner and also stayed until 1974.

By 1960, the firm of Crowell, Lancaster and Higgins had 12 full time employees.

It appears that Edwin Webster, a University of Maine civil engineering graduate was the first engineer working in the capacity of an engineer to become a partner. Originally from Auburn, ME, he worked in Vermont after graduating from college, and then moved to Bangor in 1951. In 1956, he joined the firm as Crowell was preparing to retire. Webster stayed with the firm twenty five years until his retirement in 1981.

In 1970, the name of the firm was Higgins, Webster and Associates, and in 1971 it evolved to Higgins, Webster, and Partners until 1974, when it became Webster, Ebbeson, Baldwin, Day. The Ebbeson member was Gertrud Ebbeson, who had been a noticeable part of the firm since the 1950s, was a confident Architect that had studied at MIT earning a degree in architecture. Also joining the partners in 1974 was Herb Day and Alan Baldwin. In 1978, the firm became Webster, Baldwin, Day, Rohman until 1987, when Mike Czarniecki joined the firm.

Since 1989, the firm is as we know it today – WBRC Architects & Engineers. There are several principles that carry on the day to day operations of the company as well as continue to contribute to the architecture and engineering community of Maine and beyond.

“The importance of that legacy (Crowell’s) lies in those things we can see, but also in things unseen: the commitment to excellence, the willingness to explore and innovate, and the respect for tradition and place that continue unchanged.”

Thank you to Dick Rollins, principle of WBRC Architects and Engineers for sharing

this wonderful book, A Twenieth Century History – WBRC Architects Engineers – 1902- 2002.

The content of this ASHRAE History of a company was taken from this book.

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