Historical image of students installing the rock bed for passive solar heat storage
Installing the rock bed for passive solar heat storage (c. 1986)

Terrell House was built from 1986–1988. It was designed to fulfill the dream of Professor Carroll F. “Terry” Terrell — Ezra Pound scholar and founder of the National Poetry Foundation — who wished to combine structural longevity with energy efficiency. The result became Terrell’s residence/library until his passing in 2003. Designed and built by R.W. Estela — a local contractor, UMaine alumnus, Adjunct Lecturer (Honors), and former Terrell student — Terrell House is an intriguing blend of art and science, aesthetics and function. Professor Richard “Dick” Hill (Mechanical Engineering), Terrell’s longtime friend and neighbor, was involved in the design and monitoring of the House’s energy systems.

Development of the Permaculture Living & Learning Center:

Following Terrell’s death, the house was a residence for English Department faculty for several years, but eventually it was sitting empty and unused. Meanwhile, at UMaine and across the state, interest and activity in the areas of permaculture, intentional community, and transition initiatives was gaining momentum.

Permaculture was brought to people in Maine largely through workshops and certification courses with Charles and Julia Yelton, ESTIA EcoPeace Conferences, and University of Maine courses. Early permaculture/sustainable living hubs in Maine included:

  • Humustacia Gardens, Whitefield (1997–2013)
  • Avena Botanicals, Rockport (2000–)
  • ESTIA (2004–2017), UMaine (2005–), and LongGreenHouse, Orono (2007–2011)
  • Portland Maine Permaculture Meetup, later the Resilience Hub (2005–)
  • Permaculture Association of the Northeast (2005–)
  • MOFGA and Unity College
  • Midcoast Intentional Communities Association, Rockland (2005–2007)
  • Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (planning 2007–, in residence 2012–)
  • Newforest Institute, Brooks (2007–2012)

The establishment of Terrell House Permaculture Living & Learning Center in 2012 was made possible by the prior decade of work by UMaine faculty and students, and members of the broader community. The Peace and Reconciliation Studies program was central to the connections being made and work being done during that time by Emily Markides, Joline Blais, Yadina Clark, and many others.

In 2004, Emily Markides led the formation of ESTIA, a nonprofit organization that partnered with UMaine and organized annual EcoPeace Conferences (2004–2017), multiple permaculture design courses, and other workshops and events.

In 2005, Yadina Clark founded Midcoast Intentional Communities Association (MICA). Over the next two years, MICA brought over 100 people together for workshops, discussions, and facilitated exercises to help members develop their vision for sustainable living and find like-minded collaborators to form intentional communities.

In 2007, Joline Blais co-founded LongGreenHouse with Jon Ippolito, gkisedtanamoogk and Miigam’agan, and Debbie Bell-Smith, with support from ESTIA and Charles and Julia Yelton. LongGreenHouse housed and supported the Wassookeag School, based on an experiential and ecological curriculum; operated a Permaculture research lab for UMaine graduate students and undergrads; developed and implemented protocols for Longhouse living in partnership with Wabanaki elders; and developed global social networks with state-of-the-art network technologies. In 2008, Blais and Ippolito joined and co-founded Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage.

In January of 2012, Markides met with Janet Waldron, who was UMaine’s Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance, to discuss the 2012 ESTIA EcoPeace Conference. During that conversation, Waldron expressed that UMaine might be ready to host a permaculture demonstration site. This was a significant moment and Markides quickly shared this information with Clark and other ESTIA members.

During February and March, Markides and Clark spoke with students involved in SEED (Sustainability Education and Ecological Design student organization), as well as Peace Studies and Horticulture courses. Clark also met with Joline Blais and Misa Saros, UMaine’s Sustainability Coordinator at that time. Clark communicated the strong interest and support to Waldron and drafted a permaculture garden proposal.

At the end of March, Clark’s graduate advisor, Owen Smith, asked whether she was aware of Terrell House, the 1990s energy experiment that was not currently in use. Smith connected Clark with Claude Junkins in Facilities Management and after a tour of the house in early April, Clark immediately wrote a new proposal for a permaculture living and learning center at Terrell House (originally drafted as Terrell EcoPeace House).

During the Spring 2012 semester, Clark was assisting Markides with PAX 380, the Global Ecovillages course. Michael Emery, who was a student in that course and active with ESTIA and SEED, was an early supporter of the project and helped finalize the Terrell House proposal. Clark hosted an ecopeace house dinner to recruit potential participants, and Eileen Hagerman, also a PAX 380 student, joined Emery and Clark as the co-founding resident stewards.

On April 30, 2012, Clark presented the proposal to a group of faculty, staff, and administrators including Janet Waldron, and the plan for the first two years was approved. The July 2012 permaculture design certification course in Bucksport was adjusted to finish at Terrell House, and the first cohort of resident stewards participated in that course. They officially moved into Terrell House on August 17, 2012.

Historical picture of community members and Grad students helping with Terrell House construction
Community members and grad students helping with construction (c. 1986)
Professor Terrell relaxing in the living room
Professor Terrell relaxing in the living room (c. 1990)

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Office of Sustainability
312-314 Corbett Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5774
Tel: 207.581.1571