SKOWHEGAN — The L.C. Dill Center in downtown Skowhegan is for sale. Converted in the 1960s to include a swimming pool and a gymnasium in hopes that it would become the town recreation center, the center is currently the home of Skills Inc., which offers day services for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Stephanie Johnson, executive director at the St. Albans-based Skills, said in a memo to employees that the agency has bought a building on Systoc Trail in Skowhegan and is repurposing other agency-owned buildings on Greenwood Avenue at Jewett Street.

Plans include a move by July 1.

“While we know folks have grown to love our current L.C. Dill building, it is simply too old and would cost far too much money to modernize and make fully handicap accessible,” Johnson wrote to employees in an email. “The L.C. Dill building will be sold and we are hopeful that a new owner will give it the ‘TLC’ it needs and deserves.”

Johnson said the Systoc Trail building, near Redington-Fairview General Hospital, will be used for some day services and office space, with another agency-owned building on Greenwood Avenue to be used for existing work programs.

“We currently support 28 people at LC Dill,” Johnson said in an email to the Morning Sentinel on Thursday. “Some of the folks at LC Dill work to process incoming donations to the Thrift Store, some cut rags that are sold to local businesses and some folks work for our ‘Classic Cleaners’ janitorial service cleaning some local area businesses, including our building.”

The thrift store, with entrances on Water Street and Commercial Street downtown, is owned by the Cornville Regional Charter School, which is in the process of converting the former Variety Drug building and Skowhegan District Court into high school classroom space.

The L.C. Dill Center organization for intellectually challenged adults owns this property off Jewett Street in Skowhegan, pictured on Thursday. The organization’s main building in downtown Skowhegan is for sale.

Travis Works, executive director of the charter school, said the school once had expressed an interest in the Dill Center but has abandoned that idea.

The Dill Center has a swimming pool, which long ago was covered; a gymnasium, which is still used for summer indoor yard sales; and multiple rooms and offices, comprising an overall total of 10,800 square feet of space, Skowhegan Code Enforcement Officer Randy Gray said Thursday, referencing files from the assessor’s office.

“It’s very well built,” he said.

The property, which has been tax-exempt because Skills is a nonprofit, is valued at $172,700, according to assessor’s files. It was deeded to the Ken-A-Set Association for the Retarded in December 1976, with the deed recorded at the county Registry of Deeds in February 1977. Ken-A-Set later merged with Sebasticook Farms to become Skills Inc.

The brick building located at 181 Water St., near the Municipal Building and Opera House, appears to have been built in 1952 by Silvio “Jerry” Cariani, according to county records. It was acquired by Richard Sampson, owner of the Sampson Supermarket chain, who wanted the town to take it over as a recreation center in about 1967.

The town did not accept it.

Dale Watson, who was Skowhegan town manger in the 1980s, said he remembers Sampson and the proposal to use the Dill Center as the town recreation center. He said Sampson had his offices on the upper floor of the building and later built a swimming pool downstairs.

“He tried to make a deal with the town to make it almost tax-exempt if he let them use the swimming pool for the rec department,” Watson, 83, said by phone Thursday. “The selectmen at that time didn’t like the idea, and so they turned him down. Well then, he filled it full of flamingos. He had some flamingos up there from Florida. Real live flamingos he had in there. Of course, it became like an old hen house, a lot of manure and stuff.

“Sampson left town — he got mad at Skowhegan — and left town and built a new office complex way down, like in Auburn.”

Watson said Skowhegan selectmen did not want to take over the place as a recreation center because there wasn’t a walk way all around the swimming pool, and if there was a water emergency involving a child at the far end of the pool, no one could get to the child.

Johnson, at Skills Inc., said the Systoc Trail building was built in 2006, has 4,000 square feet of available space and is fully functional and handicapped-accessible, with plenty of green space for outdoor activities.

The Greenwood Avenue buildings, including the Mary Holland School for intellectually disabled children, had been listed for sale. The agency will retain the buildings and upgrade them where necessary.

An open house at the new building is set for sometime this summer.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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