Colby, Waterville Creates! collaborate on downtown arts building renovation

WATERVILLE — A landmark downtown building will be renovated, reduced and developed into an arts hub in a collaboration between Colby College and nonprofit Waterville Creates!

The building, at 93 Main St., The Center, which borders the west side of Castonguay Square, is owned by Waterville Creates!, which bought it in 1996 when the organization was the Waterville Regional Arts and Community Center.

The project is expected to cost between $18 and $20 million, $8 million of which has already been raised, said Brian Clark, Colby vice president of planning, who is also a member of Waterville Creates! board of directors. The project would take 18 months to complete once the money is raised and design is complete.

The 64,000 square-foot building will be reduced to 32,000 square feet under the plan, connected to adjacent City Hall and Waterville Opera House with a two-story atrium, which will also replace much of the brick facade along Castonguay Square.

The project design will be finalized once fundraising goals are met, and then it will go through planning board review and city permitting, Shannon Haines, executive director of Waterville Creates!, told Mainebiz Tuesday.

Colby Secures $2-Million Commitment for Contemporary Gallery in Downtown Arts Center

Through the generosity of longtime supporter and great friend of Colby College Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf, LL.D. ’06, the Colby College Museum of Art will expand into downtown Waterville, offering the community and visitors a chance to engage with spectacular works in a vibrant setting. The contemporary gallery will be named in his honor.

As part of the downtown arts complex announced earlier this week by Colby and Waterville Creates!, the Schupf gallery will be located in a transformed historical building at 93 Main Street. Located on the ground level, it will feature a rotating program of contemporary art exhibitions. Regularly scheduled gallery events will be held in the space.

“The Schupf gallery will be a vital part of the new center for contemporary art and film, which has been conceived to create a hub of activity on Main Street and cement Waterville’s place as a destination for the arts,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “Once again, Paul Schupf has given so generously to help make art accessible to the Waterville community and visitors from Maine and beyond. We are so fortunate to have his friendship and to benefit from his vision for institutions that serve the public good.”

Schupf, who is an emeritus member of the Colby College Museum of Art’s Board of Governors and served as a College trustee for many years, has made several significant contributions to Colby, making possible the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz and the Paul J. Schupf Sculpture Court at the Colby College Museum of Art; the Paul J. Schupf Scientific Computing Center; the Anthony-Mitchell-Schupf residence hall; and the Colby College-Memorial Sloan Kettering Summer Internship. A serious collector, Schupf has also donated numerous works of art, including significant works by Alex Katz and a major gift of more than 150 works on paper by Richard Serra.

“Starting in 1985 with President Bill Cotter and museum director Hugh J. Gourley III, I became entranced by the wonderful, adventurous Colby College Museum of Art,” said Schupf. “When David Greene discussed with me the possibility of creating a gallery in Waterville, I jumped onboard immediately. The donation of the Paul J. Schupf gallery for contemporary art in downtown Waterville is just another manifestation of my admiration for the College and its museum.”

“Paul has been such a great friend to the Colby museum, and once again we are humbled by, and grateful for, his remarkable generosity,” said Sharon Corwin, the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the museum. “We see this gallery as a front door to the Colby museum and an opportunity to integrate more deeply into our community, and Paul’s support makes that possible.”

On March 5 Colby and Waterville Creates! announced plans to transform the downtown building into a new center for contemporary art and film, making Waterville a singular destination for the arts in Maine. The project, which includes a significant fundraising effort, features new and renovated space to support leading programs in visual arts, theater, film, and arts education.

The larger complex will also include the Waterville Opera House, Common Street Arts, and the Maine Film Center and Railroad Square Cinema. It is expected to attract even more visitors to a newly vibrant Main Street, anchored by a planned hotel a block from Castonguay Square and the Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, housing 200 Colby students, faculty, and staff. A technology center at 173 Main Street, housing software consultant CGI, Colby employees, and a student business incubator, opened last fall.

Founded in 1959, the Colby College Museum of Art comprises five wings, more than 9,000 works of art, and more than 38,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum also maintains a significant collection of contemporary American art, including works by Alex Katz (with more than 900 works represented), Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, Martin Puryear, Terry Winters, and Julie Mehretu. It is free and open to the public.

Plans Made for Waterville Arts Center

WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) – The non-profit group Waterville Creates is partnering with Colby College to redevelop 93 Main Street into an art center in downtown Waterville.

One of the plans in place is to shave off part of this building, making it a flat surface and increasing the green space right next to the building. It will have new galleries and three screening rooms to bring in the Maine Film Center, Railroad Square Cinema, and the Maine International Film Festival. Centralizing the art scene in Waterville is expected to boost the downtown economy.”This project will really capitalize on the arts and cultural assets of Waterville so it will bring institutions like the Maine Film Center, the Waterville Opera House, the Colby Museum of Art under one roof which will make Waterville a huge destination for arts and culture,” said Shannon Haines President and CEO, Waterville Creates.

“When the film festival is in town or when there’s a show at opera house, you can really feel the energy on the street on Main Street,” said Haines. “You can see that the restaurants are busy, the shops are busy. So having a state-of-the-art arts facility in downtown will only increase that foot traffic and that economic impact here in Waterville.”

There will also be educational space in the center. This will be an added benefit to Colby College students living right down the street in the soon-to-be built residence building.

“To have access to cultural and arts offerings here in the art center is a really great opportunity for them to be involved in terms of their classroom studies, in terms of their extracurricular and co-curricular lives,” said Sharon Corwin Director, Colby College Museum of Art.

There is no date set for when the project will be completed but organizers say they can’t wait to get started.

“I’m so excited,” said Corwin. “I think it’s going to make Waterville a real destination for people coming from far and wide and to be able to experience great art and culture here in the center of our great town is really exactly what I dream about.”


Waterville Creates! and Colby College Partner to Establish New Downtown Arts Center

Waterville, Maine — Colby College and Waterville Creates! have announced plans to transform a historical downtown building into a new center for contemporary art and film, making Waterville a singular destination for the arts in Maine. The project, which includes a significant fundraising effort, features new and renovated space at 93 Main Street to support leading programs in visual arts, theater, film, and arts education.

The preliminary design, created by an architectural team of Susan T. Rodriguez of New York City and GO Logic of Belfast, Maine, includes a contemporary gallery of the Colby College Museum of Art on the ground level; three screening rooms to bring the Maine Film Center, Railroad Square Cinema, and the Maine International Film Festival to the heart of downtown; Common Street Arts gallery; and multidisciplinary educational spaces. The concept for the 32,000-square-foot building carefully preserves the building’s historical façade while creating a Main Street presence for the Waterville Opera House.

Shannon Haines, president and CEO of Waterville Creates!, calls the moment “transformative.” “Waterville has long had amazing programs in the arts,” she said. “We are building on institutions that people have supported and cared about for a long time and creating facilities that match the integrity of those programs. Having the city’s arts organizations all under one roof will truly take Waterville to the next level.”

“From the earliest days of our downtown planning efforts, we identified the arts as a foundational strength in Waterville,” said President David A. Greene. “With the creation of this facility, we will introduce a central destination to attract visitors to the city from across Maine and beyond, add to the local economy, and make Waterville a more vibrant place to live and work.”

The design of the building, with a glass façade facing Castonguay Square, the city’s civic square, will make the Waterville Opera House building more visible from Main Street and enliven downtown at night. Visitors will access all of the arts programming through a shared entrance and atrium on Main Street, which will include a small café and a box office. The transparency of the building is also intended to signal the center’s accessibility to all.

The relocation of the Maine Film Center and Railroad Square Cinema to Main Street will significantly enhance the cinema experience for guests, providing state-of-the-art screening rooms with high-definition projection and improved seating. It will allow the Maine Film Center to fully realize its mission to enrich, entertain, and educate the community, adding year-round filmmaking workshops, lectures, and classes to its repertoire, according to Maine Film Center Executive Director Mike Perreault, a 2013 Colby graduate. Until the completion of the downtown center, Railroad Square Cinema will continue operations in its current location.

The building is located in the middle of the downtown section of Main Street. Combined with the College’s developments at both ends of the street—in the old Waterville Savings Bank building at 173 Main Street and the soon-to-be-completed Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main Street, on the north end, and a boutique hotel at the south end—this project will attract visitors from the region and beyond that will enhance local businesses and attract new investments to Waterville, says Greene. Along with the Colby College Museum of Art, the Lunder Institute for American Art, and the planned center for arts and innovation at Colby, the new arts center downtown will attract even more visitors to Waterville.

The Colby College Museum of Art’s Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator Sharon Corwin sees this center and the Colby museum gallery as an opportunity to build on existing programs and partnerships while cementing Waterville’s identity as a destination for the arts. “The Colby museum has always played an important role in this community, and now, as it expands into downtown Waterville, it will reach an even broader audience,” said Corwin. “We see this gallery as a front door to the Colby museum and an opportunity to integrate more deeply into our community.”

Fundraising is underway for the project, and the timing of construction is dependent upon the success of those efforts.

Waterville Creates!
Waterville Creates! promotes, supports, and grows the community’s arts and cultural assets in order to strengthen Waterville as a vibrant creative center, increase access to creative opportunities for residents and visitors, and advance community and economic development goals. It serves as the primary coordinating entity for arts and cultural programming in Waterville by working directly with the Colby College Museum of Art, Maine Film Center, Waterville Public Library, Waterville Opera House, and Common Street Arts to strengthen partnerships, expand collaborative programming, and launch new marketing initiatives.

Colby College
Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 58 majors or developing their own. Colby’s innovative and ambitious campaign, Dare Northward, will support deeper connections between the College and the world and a fully inclusive experience for all Colby students. Colby is home to a community of 2,000 dedicated and diverse students from more than 80 countries. Its Waterville, Maine, location provides unique access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences.