WATERVILLE — It has been 26 years since Levine’s clothing store closed downtown and six years since it was razed so that Colby College could build the Lockwood Hotel there, but the Levine’s legacy and its ties to both the city and Colby are not forgotten.

The Levine family, city and Colby officials on July 17 plan to honor that legacy by naming the strip of land to the south of the Lockwood on Main Street as Levine’s Park. A plaque developed by the Levine family will be erected in the park, noting the history of the former Levine’s store at 9 Main St. and recognizing its owners, the brothers Lewis “Ludy” and Percy “Pacy” Levine, as well as their nephew, Howard Miller, who managed the store.

At the north end of the hotel, Colby officials plan to commemorate the Levine family with another marker, and a conference room inside the hotel will be named for Miller.

Miller’s grandson, Ben Arnon, who has been helping to organize the event, said Levine’s Park Day will be a celebration of history, culture and family and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend the 11 a.m. dedication and ribbon-cutting.

“It’s really a community celebration — a celebration of the vibrancy of downtown Waterville, and the Levines always lived for community and gathering,” said Arnon, who lives in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Miller and his wife, Gisele, were parents to Sara Miller Arnon, Ben’s mother, who died last year, as well as Wendy Miller and Julie Miller-Soros. Arnon, 46, said he spent summers in Waterville as a child and was at the store a lot — he even lost his first tooth there — and when the store closed in 1996, he recalled losing that tooth in a Morning Sentinel letter to the editor.


“We are excited for the new Levine’s Park to add to the energy and current revitalization taking place in downtown Waterville,” Arnon said this week. “Ludy, Pacy, Howard and my mom, Sara Miller Arnon, would be so incredibly thrilled to see the progress and the vibrancy coming back to the heart of Waterville.”

Lewis “Ludy” Levine, left, speaks with a customer at the Levine’s store in downtown Waterville in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Two sales clerks are in the background. Photo courtesy of Ben Arnon

Ben Arnon has been working with Mayor Jay Coelho and Colby officials on the dedication effort. Arnon and other Levine family members, including his aunts, Wendy Miller and Julie Miller-Soros, will speak, as will Kimberly N. Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

Coelho said Thursday that he will read a proclamation at the event, declaring July 17 as Levine’s Store Day. He said he was on board immediately with the idea of recognizing the Levine family when Arnon contacted him. The state, he said, owns the piece of land to be named Levine’s Park and state officials granted the city permission to erect the plaque there.

“It’s nice to honor the past of the city and things that helped make the city what it is today,” Coelho said.

The event will fall on the final day of the annual, 10-day Maine International Film Festival, and MIFF also will play a part in the celebration. Arnon is a filmmaker himself and has been involved in the festival in the past, he said.

The Levine brothers were both Colby graduates who loved and supported the college.  They attended most football games and other events on campus. They even named a first-floor section of their clothing store for Colby, and a Colby mural was painted on the wall. The Levines’ sister, Dorothy “Bibby” Alfond, was married to Waterville philanthropist Harold Alfond.


The store served generations of not only Mainers, but also Colby students and their families from around the globe for more than a century until it closed in 1996. Priding itself on exceptional customer service, the store was founded in 1891 by the Levines’ parents, William and Sarah Levine.

William Levine was a Russian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. in 1886, five years before he founded the business that would become  known as “the store for men and boys.” He started peddling clothes from a pack on his back in New York City and then walked to Boston over a six-month period. While in Boston, he met his would-be wife, Sarah, and they married in 1889 and they traveled north to Portland, Augusta and then Waterville. Before opening their store, William drove a horse-drawn wagon to places such as Monson, Strong and Kingfield to sell his clothing.

He bought a store owned by Charles E. Lessard in the former hotel block on the corner of Main and Ticonic streets in Waterville and later moved to the site of the former Ward Bros. store at 91 Main St. The store moved to lower downtown Main Street after the turn of the century.

The building underwent renovations in 1928, 1939, 1961 and 1976. In about 1929, the Levines doubled the size of the store after buying adjacent property, and they joined the two buildings with an inside arch. The address of the buildings at the time was 1-19 Main St.

The Levines had eight children, including Lewis and Percy who later received their nicknames, Ludy and Pacy. Born in Waterville in 1898, Ludy attended Waterville schools, served in World War I and graduated from Colby in 1921. While a Colby student, he helped his father in the store during afternoons. Pacy was born in 1905 and attended public schools and then Coburn Classical Institute, working in the store after he finished his studying. Ludy, who served in both World War I and World War II, also graduated from Colby, as did many other Levine relatives.

The Levines lived in a grand home on Ticonic Street. When Sarah died in 1934, Frieda Levine Miller, Pacy and Ludy’s sister, ran the family household. When William, who was director of First National Bank and owned many buildings in Waterville, died in 1946, Pacy and Ludy took over their father’s store. Miller’s son, Howard, a 1940 Colby graduate, became general manager.

Ludy and Pacy for many years did the buying for the store, traveling to New York, Boston and other places. Later, Howard Miller accompanied them. Pacy died in 1996 at age 91; Ludy died in 1997 at age 98.

Colby bought the former Levine’s property and an adjacent lot in 2015 and razed it the next year before building the Lockwood Hotel in their place.

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