An artist’s rendering shows the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which is under development on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Rendering courtesy of Susan T. Rodriguez/Colby College

WATERVILLE — Colby College announced Tuesday that a multi-generational Waterville family with ties to the school is donating $2 million to support landmark arts and athletics initiatives.

Dana L. Schmaltz and Kate Enroth’s donation will name the Colby College Museum of Art’s gallery in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in honor of Joan Dignam Schmaltz, Colby class of 1963. In addition, the welcome pavilion at the new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center will be named for Richard R. “Dick” Schmaltz, Colby class of 1962.

“Where we are in our stage with our relationship with Waterville is that this should be positive, mutually beneficial and eternal,” Colby College President David A. Greene said in a phone interview Tuesday. “This should not be something that ends in the next couple years or has a timeline on it. It should be an ongoing commitment for Colby to have a partnership with Waterville.”

Joan Dignam was an artist. Dick Schmaltz was known as “Mr. Colby” to friends and family. In partnership with Waterville Creates!, Colby is developing the Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street in downtown Waterville, which will break ground in 2021. The Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art will contain exhibitions from the museum’s permanent collection as well as specially commissioned shows.

“The Schmaltz and Dignam families, much like our family, have a long and proud history in Waterville and at Colby. We all share a dedication to this community, and we can’t think of a more fitting tribute to our dear friends Dick and Joan than the naming of these two spaces in their honor,” said Peter and Paula Lunder in a release.

Joan’s aunt Mary Dignam Murphy was the first, graduating in 1931, followed by Joan’s father, Walter Larkin Dignam, who graduated in 1933. Dick and Joan’s daughter, Heide Schmaltz Dolan, also attended Colby and graduated in 1987, as did their granddaughter Meghan Lasher, who graduated in 2015, and grandson Bower Schmaltz, who is set to graduate in 2024.

A rendering of an interior space in the future Arts Collaborative building on Main Street in Waterville. Construction on the project began in July. Peter and Paula Lunder are financing almost half of the $6.5 million project, designed by architect Ryan Senatore. The building is expected to be complete by April 2021. Rendering by James Reben, Architectural Image Solutions

The art gallery is one of a handful of efforts by Colby to revitalize Waterville’s downtown. The Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, which opened in the fall of 2018, houses more than 200 students in downtown Waterville. The Lockwood Mills Hotel, which is currently housing students, will eventually open to the public. The Colby Arts Collaborative on 14 and 20 Main St. is set to open in April of 2021. Waterville’s BUILD grant also makes a difference.

“We’re hitting an inflection point where a number of the major projects are either under construction or will be soon, and over the next few years we’ll see these coming in a consistent fashion,” Greene said. “What’s also important is all of the activity that is going on that is stimulated by these investments, but not directly related to them.”

Greene alluded to the efforts by others outside of Colby as part of the overall partnership.

Colby also recently received a $101 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation to be used for downtown and athletic center efforts.

The Richard R. Schmaltz Welcome Pavilion will be the greeting and gathering place in the new $200 million Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center. The pavilion will feature a 68-square-foot interactive video display and ample space for socializing and studying.

The atrium at the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center at Colby College in September in Waterville. Photo submitted by Colby College

“For the last 60 years, my father has had his handshake ready to welcome people from all over the world to Colby. As the first All New England player on the 1961 Colby soccer team, dad always believed in the power of team sports as part of a person’s liberal arts education,” Dana Schmaltz said in a press release “I can’t think of a more appropriate place to honor his legacy to Colby than the welcome pavilion in this world-class athletic facility.”

 

 

The above now includes Heide in that sentence.

Dignam and her family grew up on nearby Gilman Street in Waterville.

The Dignam and Schmaltz families’ Waterville connections date back over a century, as more than 20 Dignam family members have attended Colby. Dick Schmaltz and his wife, Joan, and daughter, Heide Schmaltz Dolan, created the Schmaltz Family Effective Communication initiative with a $1.25 million gift. The initiative works to integrate oral communication into existing curriculum.

Greene said the commitment to partnering with the city has fostered great support and that Colby recognizes the importance of a partnership with the city of Waterville.

“The recognition that we are 100% committed to its future and its present now and for all-time is important to (alumni) and they want to support that,” Greene said. “They’re showing that in the gifts they’re making to the downtown effort, because they realize how important it is for Waterville to be able to thrive and they’re also showing their love for the city in a way that I think is incredibly admirable.”

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