As the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley wrap up its final day of programs at the former Pray Street school in Gardiner, Juliana Montell, left, Jessica Phillis and Dawna Gregoire unpack and inventory books in the clubs’ new building that is expected to open in two weeks. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — On the last day that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley held summer programs at the former Pray Street school, Ingrid Stanchfield was feeling a bit nostalgic.

After nearly two decades in the former school, Friday was the last day that kids would roam its halls and fill the building with their noise and activity.

For the next two weeks, Stanchfield, the club’s CEO, and her staff will move out of the existing facility and into their new, $10 million building next door, setting up rooms and learning the building’s new systems, before they open it up for the club’s kids and the community.

“When we moved into this building, I was feeling really grateful,” Stanchfield said Friday, sitting in the gym of the old school, while the club’s kids played out back or ate lunch at the scheduled cookout in front of the building.

Nineteen years ago, the Gardiner Boys & Girls Club, as the organization was known at the time, ran its programs — all were at capacity — in the district’s schools and at the old train depot on Maine Avenue.

“At that time I was thinking we would build a facility someday — we were in that dreamy ‘someday’ mode — but if we stayed in the schools, that was OK, too,” she said.


When the Gardiner-area school district opted to close the Pray Street school, the club was able to lease it for several years before buying the building. After several years, though, the aged building was becoming too costly to maintain, so club officials started considering their options.

The result, after several years of planning and fundraising and more than a year of construction, is the state-of-the-art building that is expected to open to club members and the public at the end of the month.

The new building has offices for club staff and specific spaces for each age group to use, both inside and outside. It also features a gym and cafeteria that can be used by community groups when they are not being used by the club.

“This might be one of my saddest days,” Peter Prescott, one of the three chairmen of the club’s Capital Campaign, said Friday at the cookout, and laughed. “I haven’t figured out what to do now that I don’t have to do anything.”

Prescott, CEO of E.J. Prescott Inc., the Gardiner-based waterworks distributor;  Gena Canning, managing partner of Pine State Beverage; and John Fallona, former owner of On Target Utility Services, have led the fundraising for the project even before it was publicly announced in October 2019.

In addition to its fundraising efforts, the organization has been able to secure more than $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds from Kennebec County’s $23.7 million allotment.


More than half of that sum will pay for installing a ventilation system for the new building to reduce the spread of disease and lower the risk of exposure. The balance will be used to support adding employees at competitive wages to staff the new clubhouse and to compensate childcare workers with bonuses for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Club officials have scheduled an open house Aug. 27 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The building that’s being vacated is slated for demolition in the coming weeks and will be replaced by athletic fields.

In the meantime, an auction of items from the former Pray Street School, including office desks, kitchen shelving and early childhood furniture, is scheduled for Saturday. The preview starts at 9 a.m., and room-by-room bidding will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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