Lynda Pratt, president of the Winthrop Maine Historical Society, discusses one of the two vaults full of safety deposit boxes during a tour Jan. 6 of the old Key Bank location at 107 Main St. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

WINTHROP — The Winthrop Maine Historical Society is looking for donors help it buy an old building on Main Street for use as the organization’s headquarters.

The society is looking to secure $100,000 to buy the old Key Bank location at 107 Main St. Lynda Pratt, president of the historical society, said the building would be called the “Winthrop History and Heritage Center.”

The group has until Feb. 1 to raise the money to buy the building, which is owned by Key Bank of Maine. According to town property tax documents, the building was built in 1950, has 2,596 square feet of floor space and sits on a quarter-acre lot.

Pratt said the nonprofit historical society, which was formed in the 1960s and reformed about 10 years ago after a hiatus, has never had “a home of its own.”

“We are based out of nowhere,” she said. “Usually, our meetings are held at the Town Office in Winthrop.”

About 40 years ago, Pratt said, another Main Street building was destined to be the society’s home, but it was torn down by its owner. The new space would allow for the society’s hundreds of artifacts to be stored properly, especially the building’s two vaults for potentially valuable items.

Pratt said the society has old documents, photographs and other items that should be in “controlled environments.”

“It has a tremendous amount of space that will help us store and catalog those artifacts,” she said.

The Winthrop Maine Historical Society is looking to buy the former Key Bank location at 107 Main St. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The location would also allow public access for lectures or guest speakers. Pratt said a gift shop could also be put into the building and offer prints of historic picture and other small items.

“It’s just an all-around win-win,” she said of the location.

According to fundraiser data, $6,285 of the $90,000 goal had been raised as of Saturday morning. All told, Pratt said the purchase and renovation of the building would cost about $125,000, based on a $100,000 valuation of the building and $25,000 for other projects.

The historical society aims to preserve the history of Winthrop, which was incorporated in April 1771, five years before the United States became a nation and 49 years before Maine became a state. The group hopes to hold a grand opening at its headquarters in 2021, which would be the 250th anniversary of the town’s incorporation.

The historical society is also looking for ways to use a collection of safety deposit boxes that cannot be removed from one of the vaults, which could be used as family time capsules, according to Pratt.

Donations can be made directly to the society. More information can be found at the group’s Facebook page — facebook.com/WinthropMaineHistoricalSociety.

Kennebec Journal photographer Joe Phelan contributed to this report.


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