Keith Bickford is manager of the River Valley Technology Center, 60 Lowell St., formerly the Rumford Bag Mill. Several businesses occupy the large facility. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

HALLOWELL – MDF’s Maine Downtown Center (MDC) has awarded $656,789 through the REvitalizeME Gen2 National Park Service Sub-grant program for four historic preservation projects involving historic downtown buildings in Maine. These projects all support economic development in rural downtowns during this critical time.

“We are pleased to make these awards for catalytic projects in Maine downtowns,” says Anne Ball, program director, Maine Downtown Center. “The program set out to drive the connection between economic development and historic preservation. These projects illustrate this in four unique downtowns in four different Maine counties and in four different building types: a library, theater, mill, and former jail.”

The four awards prevailed through a process aimed at identifying new opportunities that will have a fundamental impact on economic revitalization and historic preservation:
* Bag Mill, Rumford – $200,000 — roof repair and energy efficiency improvements; $48,560 — for plans and specifications and a window survey.
* Colonial Theater, Augusta – $160,229 — for repair of windows and exterior doors.
* Old Hancock County Sheriff’s Home and Jail, Ellsworth – $200,000 — for repair of masonry.
* Porter Memorial Library, Machias – $48,000 — for plans and specifications to add an elevator to make the library accessible for the first time in its history and to redesign interior space.

MDF’s partner in this effort was the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. “We are pleased to be able to support rehabilitation work on several historically significant buildings,” says Kirk Mohney, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer. “The variety of buildings that received awards underscores the rich architectural heritage of Maine’s downtowns.”

The REvitalizeME Gen2 sub-grant program was funded by the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants Program of the National Park Service, Department of Interior. The objective of the program is to support the rehabilitation of historic properties that will drive economic development in rural communities.

“One of the MDF’s strategic priorities is improving the economic vitality of the state’s downtowns,” says Yellow Light Breen, MDF President and CEO. “Even in difficult economic times, rehabbing our historic properties boosts the long-term prospects for sustaining businesses and jobs in our downtowns. These grants enable downtown historic building owners to be good stewards of their buildings and drive economic development.”

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