BRUNSWICK — The Bowdoin International Music Festival announces its purchase of historic 181 Park Row in downtown Brunswick. The Festival administrative offices have been headquartered on the second floor of this location since 2007. Until a recent move to Cumberland, Norton Insurance (now HUB) occupied the first floor of the building.

The Bowdoin International Music Festival announces its purchase of historic 181 Park Row in downtown Brunswick. The Festival administrative offices have been headquartered on the second floor of this location since 2007. Submitted photo

“It was never part of our planning to purchase a building. But, the opportunity presented provided us the chance after 56 years to have a place to call home,” said Music Festival Board Chair Elliot Rosen. “We could not pass this up. That the building has such a long and storied past tied to music makes it even more special.”

The building purchase continues a period of strong financial and organizational growth for the Festival. Led by Artistic Directors David Ying and Phillip Ying, the Bowdoin International Music Festival annually receives more than 1,000 student applications for its summer institute and hosts nearly 200 events each summer season, many at no cost to the public. As demand for concerts grew, the Festival began to livestream all performances, bringing 42,000 “digital viewers” from 100 countries into the concert hall.

“The location serves a number of the Festival’s needs, such as proximity to our summer facilities at Bowdoin College, comfortable working spaces for employees, and easy access to downtown,” said Daniel Nitsch, Music Festival Executive Director. “The Festival, an independent non-profit, is a proud member of the Brunswick community and we expect this acquisition to further our ability to connect with residents and tourists to bring beautiful and inspiring cultural experiences to the area.”

The purchase and operation of 181 Park Row will be supported by leasing the 2,000+ square foot first floor and with operating cash surpluses from recent years. All past and future donations and endowment funds will continue to directly serve educational and concert programs.

The Festival’s ownership will continue a tradition of music in the halls of the building which once served as the home of Bowdoin Music Department Chair Frederic “Tilly” Tillotson during his tenure at Bowdoin from 1936 to 1963. According to Frederic’s son, Clive, the first floor housed two pianos where student and professional musicians gathered for lessons and evenings of music-filled parlor parties. In the early 1800s, the building reputedly served as part of Brunswick’s Underground Railroad, hiding freedom-seekers in an attic room with a hidden entrance.

The Bowdoin International Music Festival welcomes the public to share any history, stories, or other information about 181 Park Row. The Festival can be reached at (207) 373.1400 or at [email protected] as well as through Facebook.


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