AUGUSTA — A $100,000 donation from Kennebec Savings Bank will give the Colonial Theatre something to build on, providing both a sizable jump start to initial fundraising efforts while also fixing the theater’s floor.

Andrew Silsby, president of Kennebec Savings Bank, announced Friday at a gathering at the historic downtown Water Street theater the Augusta-based bank will donate $100,000 toward the theater’s restoration.

Tobias Parkhurst, president of the Augusta Colonial Theatre board of directors, said that money will pay for the structural repair of the theater’s main auditorium floor, which currently has a large gaping hole in the middle of it.

Work on the floor is expected to start Monday and be complete by mid-October. It will clear the way for other renovations to occur as more money is raised, including building a larger stage, balcony seating and a new ceiling. The floor repair will be done by Winthrop-based J.F. Scott Construction, the same firm that recently did the major expansion and renovation of Augusta’s Lithgow Public Library.

Parkhurst said he sees the structural repair of the floor as a turning point, marking the transition from projects meant to save the long-vacant building, which in 2014 was named to the National Register of Historic Places, to restorations and improvements meant to create a new performing arts space to help revitalize the downtown.

“I feel like when this floor gets fixed, it’s the end of the conversation about saving this old building, and the start of the conversation about developing a relevant, vibrant cultural center in this community,” Parkhurst said Friday. “Obviously this donation is a game-changer. We felt for a long time the project has a tremendous amount of public support, but we’ve been having difficulty getting the key donors off the fence. This marks, for us, a serious contribution from a serious community partner. It signifies their belief in the project.”


Silsby said the bank’s employees and directors pride themselves on being part of the fabric of the community and contribute both time and money to many community causes.

“We at Kennebec Savings Bank have a strong sense of community and we enjoy supporting causes that help make where we live and work a more enjoyable place to be,” Silsby said in a news release. “I really feel this project is going to transform Augusta’s downtown and bring people together.”

Parkhurst said with the latest donation nearly $700,000 in funds will have been committed toward the $8.5 million project, including a $30,000 donation by Skowhegan Savings Bank announced in January. Organizers also anticipate using $2.5 million in historic preservation tax credits to help fund the restoration.

Project needs include $5 million to restore the 1913 theater building itself, $1 million for operating expenses, and $2 million to construct a new, 20,000 square-foot building which will be attached to the theater building and include space for offices, parking on the lower level, bathrooms and an elevator to make the theater accessible to everyone and, in turn, make the old theater able to comply with modern code requirements.

While formal, full-fledged fundraising efforts are not yet underway, those wishing to donate to the project may do so through the theater’s website at

The Colonial Theatre, which in 2011 was named to Maine Preservation’s list of the Most Endangered Historic Resources, is owned by a nonprofit group which has a goal of restoring and reopening the theater by 2019.


Parkhurst said plans are to make the facility a multi-use community cultural center with live theater, musical performances, movies, a speaking series, and other events and gatherings, all of which are expected to help bring people and vitality to the city’s riverfront downtown.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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