GARDINER — In a move that is expected to keep the renovation of Johnson Hall on track, the board of the performing arts center has hired Ganneston Construction Corp. to be the project’s construction manager.

At the same time, Ganneston Construction and CEO Stacey Morrison have announced a joint corporate and personal $100,000 gift to support the project.

“I strongly believe you have to have attractions to bring people into communities,” Morrison said, noting that she loves old buildings and music. “Once this is up and going, it will benefit the community and local businesses.”

The Johnson Hall board is a little more than midway through the fundraising campaign that’s expected to raise the $4.3 million needed to complete the project.

Mike Miclon, the executive artistic director, said construction will start when the last pledge is secured.

“If things all went according to plan, it’s conceivable that a year from now we can say we have received the last pledge,” Miclon said.


With a construction manager on board, the work will be able to start immediately, he said. It’s expected to take about 11 months to complete.

Johnson Hall currently hosts live music, comedy and theater performances in its 110-seat Studio Theater on the ground floor, which consistently sell out. A year ago, movies were added to its roster of shows. From June to September, Johnson Hall hosts free concerts on Gardiner’s waterfront. It also offers programs for children through its SPARK performing arts summer day camps and by arranging performances by visiting artists in area schools.

In addition to renovating the second floor 400-seat theater, the project at the state’s oldest opera house encompasses building a lobby and concession area along with performers’ dressing and green rooms, and a full-service box office and foyer on the ground floor for the Studio Theater, which will remain open.

Without a construction manager, he said, work could be delayed six to eight months while the project is bid out to subcontractors, and that could push the opening date well into 2020. If the construction schedule holds, the renovated space will be open to the public in 2019.

At this point, Morrison said, her company is identifying subcontractors who are qualified to work on the project, and it’s preparing to deliver cost estimates as the plans for the upper levels of the historic building start to take shape.

As the project’s historic elements are incorporated, Morrison and Ganneston will be able to project costs.


“As decisions are being made,” Morrison said, “they will know the impact.”

The costing work offers other benefits.

If Carrie Arsenault, Johnson Hall’s capital campaign director, applies for grants, the data will available for her information, Morrison said.

And knowing how much the stage will cost, for instance, will help with naming opportunities, Miclon said.

“We have a number of naming opportunities, from $1 million to $25,000 right now,” he said.

Patrick Wright, chairman of the opera house renovation steering committee, said the importance of this milestone is that it’s the next step in building partnerships.


“What we’re getting with Stacey is the whole package,” he said. “She has the building expertise, and she has connections in the community to help us raise funds, and she’s a Gardiner resident and cares deeply about the project.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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