Sections of the Carleton Woolen Mill in downtown Winthrop are frozen in time.

The mill operated until 2002 and now — as the Winthrop Commerce Center — is the site of several local businesses, services and organizations. But there’s room to spare in the hulking brick complex, and certain parts of the building still look as they did when manufactured textiles were leaving the doors.

On the fourth floor, a calendar from 2000 still hangs on the wall, its pages turned to September. Signs warn visitors to mind the forklifts and wear safety glasses when working with compressed air. Flaking layers of green and white paint still cover the walls and I-beams.

But in the shuttered mill that was once the lifeblood of downtown Winthrop, an area couple hopes to transform its uppermost floor into a different type of economic engine for Main Street, one that will be successful on its own while also creating demand for other local vendors.

In late March, Veronica and Gene Carbona signed a five-year lease to use the unoccupied fifth floor of the building. They now hope to clean and spruce up the industrial space and use it to host weddings, galas, art exhibits and other events.

“This is raw industrial space,” Gene said. “This is for a certain subset of girls that says, ‘This is like New York City in downtown Winthrop.’ This a very specific couple that wants this.”


The event space, which the Carbonas are calling Penthouse V, is the sequel to an effort they launched last year.

In 2016, the couple purchased an old barn and 10 acres next to Maranacook Lake just outside downtown Winthrop and converted it into a wedding and event space, called the Barn at Silver Oaks Estate. They have booked 55 weddings there, as well as at least two high school proms.

The Carbonas, who live in Readfield, now hope the unfinished space on Main Street will appeal to a different type of couple. Gene pointed to the example of 58 Fore, a chic venue in downtown Portland with a similar aesthetic of exposed brick, iron beams and high ceilings.

The Winthrop penthouse is massive, with a 200-foot-by-60-foot floor space. Its windows offer a panoramic view of downtown and nearby Annabessacook Lake, and also let in ample morning and afternoon light.

Unlike the Barn at Silver Oaks Estate, the space will be able to host events during winter. During warmer times of the year, guests may be able to use an outdoor section of the Winthrop Commerce Center, which looks over the stream that now winds down into the lake, in the shadow of the brick smokestack that’s still on the property.

The Carbonas hope the foot traffic their venues could bring to downtown Winthrop would draw business to the other establishments that are already there, while also inspiring would-be entrepreneurs to finally make the leap and start a restaurant or a shop.


The Carbonas already have worked with area vendors while hosting weddings at their property on Maranacook Lake and said those weddings also have drummed up business for local motels and lodges.

“This is the renaissance of Winthrop,” Gene said. “This is a game-changer.”

Some have expressed bewilderment about the couple’s plans, wondering why anyone would want to get married in an old factory.

“Everyone says we’re crazy,” Veronica said, “but we see possibilities where no one else does.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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