WATERVILLE — Portland resident Nathan Towne read a Facebook post a few weeks ago about a facade being removed from a downtown building in Waterville, revealing its original brickwork and architecture. He was intrigued and wanted to learn more.

The Waterville native went online, read newspaper stories about downtown revitalization efforts and was convinced he wanted to come home to the city and move his business here.

He and his husband, Mark Simpson, own Christopher Hastings Confections, which produces handcrafted artisan chocolates and candies using Maine ingredients. They plan to move to Waterville at the end of the month and are looking for a space downtown for the candy company.

As an added bonus, Towne has been hired as the marketing manager at Waterville Creates! based in The Center at 93 Main St. The organization promotes arts and culture in the city and the region and focuses on providing marketing, advertising and program support for its five core partners — the Waterville Opera House, the Maine Film Center, Waterville Main Street, the Waterville Public Library and the Colby College Museum of Art.

The organization was formed in 2014, and Executive Director Nate Rudy said recently that he sees big things for its future, including an added focus on the arts and culture in the community, including public spaces. Towne, 44, replaces Dick Dyer, who resigned in January.

Towne performed on the Opera House stage as a teenager, as well as in Waterville Senior High School productions. Over the years he has owned and operated a public relations firm and later worked for advertising agencies.

He was a shoo-in for the position.


Towne is a cheerleader for the city, not only because it is his hometown, but also because he truly loves Waterville and everything it has to offer.

“At the end of the day, my job is really to shine a spotlight on all the arts and cultural happenings in the Greater Waterville area,” Towne said Thursday in his office. “If it’s an arts or cultural event, program or institution here in Waterville, I want to promote it.”

He has been on the job only two weeks and already has attended more social and arts gatherings in that time than during his last two years in Portland, he said. He attended a Colby College Museum of Art event, a Common Street Art poetry exhibit for National Poetry Month, a Waterville Rotary Club meeting and three sessions the city and Colby hosted for downtown businesses and residents to give input on downtown revitalization plans.

Towne enjoys the fact that Waterville has a pedestrian-friendly downtown, and he makes it a point to say hello to everyone he meets.

“I want to get to know people,” he said.

Towne and Simpson have been looking at spaces downtown for their business, which sells to wholesalers and retailers in places such as Bangor, Ellsworth, Portland, Bar Harbor and Belfast.

The name of the candy company, Christopher Hastings Confections, is derived from Simpson’s middle name, Christopher, and Towne’s middle name, Hastings.

Their specialty chocolates include Needhams made with Maine russet potatoes. They also use dark amber maple syrup produced by Strawberry Hill Farms in Skowhegan.

Eventually, they hope to open a retail shop downtown as well. The business won major awards earlier this month at the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling in Portland, including the People’s Choice, Sea Salt and Pearl awards.


Towne was born in 1971 at the former Seton Hospital on Chase Avenue to John Towne, a well-known surgeon, and his wife, Connie. His parents still live in Waterville.

The family always has been involved in and supportive of community organizations, including those associated with arts and culture, and John Towne also performed on the Opera House stage.

In 1990, Towne graduated from Waterville Senior High School, where he was a member of both the swim team and the drama club. He performed in “Mame,” “The Music Man” and “Our Town,” among other shows.

As a child, Towne also performed in shows at the Opera House, including “Oliver,” and “Carousel.”

“I grew up enjoying the Waterville theater scene at the Opera House,” he said. “I basically grew up behind the curtain and really had a wonderful childhood here in Waterville.”

After high school, he initially thought he wanted to be a marine biologist and attended Texas A&M University.

“I got there, and organic chemistry was so far from what I envisioned,” he recalled.

In 1994, he transferred to Boston University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and public relations. He then earned a master’s in integrated marketing communications from Emerson College in Boston.

He ran his own public relations firm for about five years and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked for advertising agencies, doing public relations for big companies such as Kraft and Oscar Mayer and traveling all over the world.

Later, he moved to Waltham, Massachusetts, and then back to Maine.

Simpson, his husband, is a part-time photonic engineer in addition to working in the couple’s chocolate business. As a photonic engineer, he grows laser crystals used in the health care industry and works in Boston one week a month.

Towne said he stays in touch with fellow thespians from high school and Opera House shows, many of whom now live worldwide.

“When I post about something happening in Waterville, I get a great response,” he said. “My dream is to get some folks from Waterville High to come back to Waterville.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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