Thomas College in Waterville is experiencing a housing crunch and has identified a creative solution: entering into a multi-year agreement with Snow Pond Center for the Arts to lease a residence hall there on Messalonskee Lake in Sidney.

Students living in the 28-room residence hall, as well as the entire Thomas College community on its West River Road campus, will have access to the 40-acre waterfront property in Sidney. That includes use of educational, performance, music and dance spaces, tennis and basketball courts, a yoga and dance studio, and nearly 2 miles of walking and snowshoe trails.

Under the agreement, Thomas students also will be able to take part in Snow Pond’s camps, concerts and other events, and receive discounted tickets for concerts and events held at the center’s Bowl in the Pines amphitheater, which is one of the largest such outdoor venues in the nation.

Thomas’ West River Road campus has five residence halls, all of which are expected to be full in the fall, according to a college news release.

“We are incredibly excited to have secured this new offering for our current and future students at Thomas College,” Todd Smith, Thomas’ chief operating officer, said in the release. “With the growth of our student body comes new opportunities. And this new opportunity with Snow Pond really expands the promise of an inspiring environment for the Thomas College student experience.”

Christa Johnson, Snow Pond’s director of development and community engagement, said the center is thrilled to partner with Thomas College.


“As two of Maine’s long-standing and community-based institutions, this new partnership is a perfect match,” she said in the release. “We are excited to welcome the Thomas College students to the Snow Pond campus and, importantly, for the students to be able to participate in all of the opportunities that entails.”

Tom Warren, vice president of auxiliary services, said in an interview that the Snow Pond residence hall will house mostly upper class students and is being renovated to include a kitchenette. Plans also are in the works for those students to have a meal plan at the main campus in Waterville.

Asked if Thomas has a capital plan to build more residence halls on the Waterville campus in the future, Warren said the college is looking at multiple options, including that and possibly expanding its partnership with Snow Pond.

“We’re really not sure where the next step is going to take us, but we’re pretty excited about this,” he said, adding that the waterfront residence hall and activities there provide a unique option for students.

“We were certainly fortunate that we were able to come up with this partnership with Snow Pond, and we’re excited about it,” he said.

He said there may be internship opportunities for students at events there as well. The multiyear lease is open-ended, meaning it may be renewed regularly by mutual agreement, according to Warren.

Asked how many students are expected to enrolled at Thomas in the fall, how many are staying in residence halls and whether that number is much higher than the current year, Thomas spokeswoman MacKenzie Riley Young said officials do not have the final number as they are still receiving applications from students from Maine, out-of-state, and other countries.

According to Young, in the fall of 2022, there were 673 degree-seeking undergraduate students and 114 graduate students.

“Our residency rate hit an all-time high last year and we expect to set a new record this year as more students choose to live on our beautiful campus,” Young said in an email.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.