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EMMC Auxiliary preps for 13th Annual Kitchen Tour

The kitchen at Eastern Maine Medical Center. The kitchen will only be open from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.
Courtesy of Brian Vanden Brink, Architectural Photographer

By Rosemary Lausier

For The Weekly

Kitchens are considered the heart of the home. But with home and cooking shows on the rise, comes the eagerness of homeowners to redesign this central space. Where can one go to satisfy their kitchen cravings for new ideas?

Home and cooking enthusiasts alike can expect a glimpse at some of Bangor’s finest kitchens this weekend at Eastern Maine Medical Center Auxiliary’s 13th Annual Kitchen Tour.

From 12 noon-4 p.m. Saturday Sept. 23, guests can find themselves touring the kitchens in six Greater-Bangor area homes and the newly renovated dining room and cafeteria at Eastern Maine Medical Center (open 1-4 p.m.).

“We try to make an interesting tour that can be accomplished in four hours, has a good route, and has a good mix of homes together. [It’s] always new and always different,” said Eileen Hernandez, Chair of the Kitchen Tour committee.

With more than 400 guests expected to attend this year’s event, volunteers from the community and the Auxiliary will be on hand to answer questions, direct house traffic and act as security. A hostess will talk about each kitchen in detail including paint color, cabinets and floor finishings to those seeking new ideas for their homes.

Amy and Lance  Blackstone, owners of the pop-up event venue 58 Main in downtown Bangor, are showcasing their kitchen for the first time after being suggested for the tour by friends in the Auxiliary. The Blackstone’s kitchen is on the third floor of their downtown apartment building, which survived the Great Fire of 1911.

According to archives, the Blackstone’s building has an extensive history dating back to its construction in 1831. Originally a sail cutting factory, other tenants of the building include dressmaker Ursula Dunning (1860s), the Bangor Military Band (1888-1894), CE (later CA) Carpets, Draperies, and Wallpapers (1895-1932) a fruit market and public market (1934-35), Day’s Jewelers (1936-57) and Smiley’s Dress Shop (1960s).

In 2010, the building’s third and fourth floors were converted into a living space with the Blackstones acquiring the property in 2015.

Highlights from this modern and industrial-style kitchen includes Shaker cherry cabinets, speckled granite countertops and a stainless steel island prep table, a feature the Blackstones added. There is a living nook next to the kitchen, allowing it to be a great place to accommodate friends and visitors.

Although the kitchen has a hatch leading up to the fourth floor when it was once the sail cutting factory, Amy says that their favorite feature of the kitchen is the Heartland gas range, allowing the couple to grill without the need for a backyard.

Their love of cooking and food is what makes this tour right up the Blackstone’s alley. Amy said she believes the kitchen tour is so appealing to members of the community because of a shared fascination with homes and cooking.

“It’s fun to see how we’re connected to others and see how people live,” said Amy. “There is an interest in home chefs and home cooking. We are just in a space where there is an interest in cooking and how to make it accessible in the home.”

Proceeds from the tour will benefit the hospital’s new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit made possible by the  EMMC’s Remarkable Begins With You campaign. In efforts to fulfill the auxiliary’s five-year pledge of $400,000, this is the second year funds from the tour will go toward the addition.

“A lot of people are very excited about the new NICU,” said Jan Currier, President of the EMMC Auxiliary. “People will volunteer because of that. They’ve had a good experience, their friends had an experience, and they know the differences in quality of life and the difference of the outcomes. It’s important to the whole community.”

In efforts to help support local businesses, 10 vendors, including Savage Coffee Company, Specialty Sweets and Biggi’s Organic Breads, will provide samplings of food, beverages, and other products in the different kitchens. Fork and Spoon/Basil Catering will be featured at the Blackstone’s kitchen during the tour.

The tour will also include door prizes, a raffle for a basket filled with donations from the vendors and area businesses, and a drawing for tickets to the Auxiliary’s other major fundraising event, the 12th annual Beach Ball (formerly Winter Beach Ball) in March 2018.

“It really involves the community directly; that’s a major benefit I think of that. People get introduced to interesting homes, but it introduces them to the auxiliary, the hospital, the pledges and it becomes a wonderful community event,” says Currier.

Tickets are available $25 in advance online at www.emmcauxiliary.org, EMMC Gift Shop, Patrick’s Fine Gifts, Rebecca’s Gift Shop, Miller Drug (Westgate), The Rock and Art Shop in Ellsworth and Anthony John’s Day Spa, or $30 at the door. A purchase of tickets comes with a map,  directions, descriptions of the kitchens and kitchen guidelines.

The Auxiliary was established in 1893. Since its inception, the Auxiliary has contributed more than $3.6 million to the hospital and its programs, “doing good work”, and directly supporting their community. Information can be found at its website at www.emmcauxilliary.org and Facebook.

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