Home Sweet McHome

Written by WBRC CEO Doug Whitney, AIA

Completed in 1983, Ronald McDonald House in Bangor provides parents a place to stay when their children are being treated at local hospitals. It is located on State Street, so guests can see Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in the distance when staying here and walk over to see their child being treated at EMMC.

John Rohman, WBRC’s longtime CEO, was the Principal-in-Charge of this project. He and I worked together with the building committee to design this important local resource.

Turning Grief into Caring

Ronald McDonald House Bangor’s story began in the early 1970s, when a little boy named Raish, the son of Anita and Leon Haskell of Milford, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Raish had to be treated in New York City and Anita slept on the floor of Raish’s hospital room because there was no suitable place to stay.

Tragically, Raish passed away at the age of four. Anita Haskell responded by making the world a better place in his memory ever since. This includes being a driving force behind Bangor’s Ronald McDonald House. In the late 1970s, Anita and a group of local citizens called The Candlelighters learned about a fundraising event for Boston’s Ronald McDonald House. They decided Bangor needed its own and got to work.

The group reached out to local McDonald’s owner/operators and raised the funds to conduct a feasibility study. They found a large, vacant state-owned property near EMMC. It had once been the superintendent’s house at Bangor Mental Health Institute (now Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center.) The State of Maine donated the property for $1. Planning and fundraising for Maine’s first Ronald McDonald House began in earnest.

This Old House

When John and I started working on this project, the existing historic, elegant home and carriage house had sat vacant for years. The front section and middle ell toward the back were in good condition. A back wing, however, was poorly built and needed to be demolished and replaced.

To maximize the available space, we devised a connecting corridor that tied the former carriage house to the main building. We also created a unique caretaker’s apartment on the second floor of the former carriage house in between the wood timber framing.

In the main building, we designed a large kitchen and open dining area that could be used by more than one family for cooking and dining. The bedrooms are clustered together along a sunny corridor with window seats overlooking the outdoor play area.

Ronald McDonald House Hand Rendering
I created this presentation rendering by hand using a two-point perspective plan graphic technique. This was long before we had our current 3D computer software capabilities.
Ronald McDonald House Floor Plan
First Floor Plan of the original design. We have since designed a large family room addition that included an elevator that connects all three levels.
Exterior photos of the Ronald McDonald House grand opening
Exterior photos from the open house grand opening in December 1983.
Doug Whitney at the Ronald McDonald House grand opening
Ronald McDonald House was decorated for the grand opening. I wore my snazzy new ski jacket.


Years Later

Here are some images of Ronald McDonald House several years later. By then, a family room addition had been built and the landscaping had matured.


One Last Vintage Image

Back in 1983, our company was called Webster Baldwin Day Rohman. Here is the groovy logo we used on our plan title blocks for Ronald McDonald House.