The foundation for the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, shown Friday, is complete and ready for steel beams to be installed starting Monday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The $18 million Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street downtown will start taking visible shape beginning Monday when steel beams are moved into place to frame the building, according to officials.

“Construction is going right along on schedule,” Brian Clark, Colby College’s vice president of planning, said Friday. “We still anticipate we’re going to open by the end of 2022.”

Workers will start installing concrete decking in December and the building will be fully enclosed and weather tight for interior construction in February, according to Clark.

“It’s going to go up really quickly,” he said.

Named for Schupf, an art collector, Colby benefactor and emeritus trustee of the college who died in 2019, the center at 93 Main St. will be a hub for the visual and performing arts, arts education, and film for people of all ages. Colby and Waterville Creates, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes art and culture in Waterville, worked together and raised money for the project.

Construction started in June just as an $11.2 million revitalization project by the city, Colby, the state Department of Transportation and downtown businesses and building owners also was launched. That work will change the traffic pattern on Main and Front streets from one way to two, improve intersections and sidewalks, and beautify downtown with new landscaping, city officials have said.

Clark said there are several parties working together on the Schupf building.

“This is a complicated project,” he said. “The Schupf center is on a fairly compact site. Being able to have a great working relationship with the contractors and the city on this has been really critical.”

The Schupf center (pronounced like Schuff) will include Waterville Creates, the Maine Film Center, three cinemas, Ticonic Gallery & Studios and the Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art, an extension of the Colby College Museum of Art. The center also will be home to the annual Maine International Film Festival.

A glass wall overlooking Castonguay Square, a skywalk to the Waterville Opera House, a cafe and a box office named after actor Ed Harris also will be part of the center. Harris is a film festival award recipient who donated $75,000 to the center and was featured in “Empire Falls,” an HBO movie filmed partly in Waterville and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name written by former Waterville resident and Colby instructor Richard Russo.

Colby has invested millions of dollars in downtown revitalization efforts, reflected in the $26 million Lockwood Hotel featuring Front & Main restaurant; the $6.5 million Greene Block + Studios across the street; and the $25 million Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons that houses Colby students and staff.

Colby also is constructing the $85 million, 74,000-square-foot Gordon Center for the Creative and Performing Arts on the Colby campus on Mayflower Hill that will include a performance hall, multipurpose performance areas and studios and the college’s first arts incubator to nurture emerging art forms. It is scheduled to open in fall 2023.

At 18 Main St. downtown, the Greene Block + Studios, built in the former Waterville Hardware space and named after Colby President David A. Greene and his wife, Carolyn, were dedicated last week. It includes flexible performance and exhibition space and artist studios.


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