WATERVILLE — The 102-year-old former Waterville Elks building on Appleton Street is coming down inch by inch, with piles of bricks and mortar next to it growing larger with each sweep of the excavator.

A worker from Costello Dismantling Co. of West Wareham, Massachusetts, stood Wednesday morning with a hose, spraying water on the piles to keep the dust in check with half of the building torn down. Appleton Street remained open to traffic and pedestrians continued to stroll the sidewalks.

The Waterville Elks Lodge 905 moved into the building when it was brand new in 1914 after having occupied the upper two floors of the former Morning Sentinel building on Silver Street since 1904. In 1994, the Elks moved from Appleton Street to the current Elks Lodge on Industrial Road, which the organization built for $1.4 million.

The building being razed at 13-15 Appleton St. most recently was home to Resurrection Life Church, which moved to Ridge Road when Colby College last year purchased it and four other buildings downtown as part of revitalization efforts that also include plans to build a student dormitory in The Concourse. Colby will turn the Appleton Street property, which it purchased for $431,000, into a parking lot, as all the new development downtown is expected to create the need for additional parking.

“Work to design the parking lot continues, so I can’t say how many spaces, specifically, it will hold,” Kate Carlisle, Colby’s director of communications, said in an email. “It will support parking for Colby development at the north end of Main Street. We look forward to the outcome of the transportation and parking study to further understand what a comprehensive parking plan will look like to meet the needs of residents, employees and visitors downtown.”

The results of a study to determine an overall parking system for downtown and whether to turn Main Street from one-way to two-way are expected to be presented to the public in early October. The study was funded by Colby, the city and state Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, the former Elks building demolition stirs memories for Elks who served there.

Charlie Landry, 85, an Elk for more than 45 years, remembered spending time at the three-story Appleton Street building when the Elks occupied it.

“There was always a dance upstairs there on Saturdays in the winter,” Landry said Wednesday. “We’d get stuck in the parking lot, there was so much snow. We had to walk home.”

The Elks played cards in the basement of the building and on the main floor, and there was a bar and pool table, he recalled. The two large white columns near the entrance of the building were salvaged and given to the Elks, as were some bricks, according to Landry.

“They took them down for us, and we’re going to pick up some bricks from the building,” he said. “We’re going to put them at our Elks building. We don’t know where yet, but we will know in a few days.”

Colby has also bought 173 Main St., the Hains Building, which is diagonally across Appleton from where the new parking lot will be. After the Hains Building is renovated, the upper two floors will be occupied by Collaborative Waterville, which expects to have 200 people working in the city in the next five years. Collaborative currently leases space at the Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street.

Colby is scheduled to buy the northeast tip of The Concourse downtown and plans to build a student housing complex there with retail on the ground floor. That spot is across Main Street from The Hains Building.

Also, the former Levine’s building at 9 Main St. and the former Waterville Hardware building across the street from it at 16-20 Main St. are slated for removal. A possible boutique hotel may be built at the Levine’s site, but that proposal is not cast in stone. Colby is working to partner with investors to develop the spaces it owns downtown.

“We’re making great progress with our partners in Waterville toward developing the properties downtown, and we’ll announce more details as the plans solidify,” Carlisle said.

MORE RENOVATIONS

As equipment hacked away at the back of the old Elks building Wednesday morning, exposing rooms within, Glenn Carnegie was in his barber shop next door at 17 Appleton St., clipping a man’s hair.

Carnegie, 76, who has been at the location 30 years — 52 years altogether downtown — said he welcomes having a parking lot next door, but hopes it will be open to anyone.

“If they make it for the public, it’s OK with me,” he said.

The building the barber shop is located in is on the corner of Appleton and Main and is known as The Cyr Block, which has an address of 177-179 Main St. Built in 1922 and owned by Sidney H. Geller Trust, the four-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is managed by Bruce Fowler. The building is occupied by Selah Tea, professional offices and retail businesses.

Fowler was in the barber shop Wednesday morning where workers were busy on scaffolding, doing renovation work. Fowler explained that both the barber shop and Selah Tea are undergoing renovations.

“We’re putting a sprinkler system in the building and Glenn had a suspended ceiling which was concealing the windows,” Fowler said. “All the windows were blocked. It’s going from an 8-foot ceiling to 17 1/2 feet. The walls and ceilings will be replaced and electrical is being updated. The wiring in here was 94 years old — original 1920s wiring. He’s getting new walls, new ceilings, new light fixtures, new floor.”

Selah Tea, owned by Bobby and Rachel McGee, also will have its false ceiling removed, and new wiring, central air and lights installed, according to Fowler.

“We’re constantly improving our buildings. It’s just part of the ongoing renovations. We’ve done all the brick work, casting, roof, windows,” he said.

‘PEOPLE ARE REINVESTING’

Fowler attended all but one of the several public meetings held downtown this spring to get input from residents and business people about revitalization efforts.

“I am just content that people are reinvesting in downtown,” he said.

Bobby McGee was at Downtown Smoothies, which he also owns, on Main Street Wednesday. He said renovations at Selah Tea will start this week and the business will remain open throughout the work.

“We’re going to resurface all the tables,” McGee said. “It’s going to have a more rustic feel in there, but still be bright and airy and cheery. We’ll paint the walls and the green wallpaper will probably be going away. A lot of work will get done at night when we’re closed. I’m personally taking the tables home and stripping and sanding and re-staining them.”

He said he expects to spend 12 hours working on each of his 26 tables.

McGee, whose businesses draw a variety of patrons including Colby students, said he is excited about downtown revitalization, including construction of the new Colby student living complex, diagonally across the street from Selah Tea.

He also is looking forward to seeing a new parking lot on Appleton Street, which he also hopes will be open to the public.

The whole revitalization effort is exciting, he said.

“I’m really, really stoked about it, even if they add two-way traffic,” McGee said. “It’s called ‘revitalization’ for a reason.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.