HALLOWELL — The space still needs walls, doors, carpeting and furniture, but by mid-fall, the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce expects to call 105 Second St. home.

The move, announced Friday, comes more than a year after the chamber’s leadership recognized the organization needed a new and larger space to meet the needs of its growing membership.

It also takes the chamber offices out of Augusta for the first time in its nine-decade history.

“The space we had on Western Avenue served its purpose for eight years,” Earl Kingsbury, past president of the chamber, said. “It was much larger than the space we had on University Drive, but the chamber outgrew it.”


The staff was in small offices at the Western Avenue site, Kingsbury said, and the conference room on the second floor was in a loft and offered little privacy for meetings.


In the new space, the chamber will have offices for its expanding staff, a conference room for its own use or for its members’ use and access to a larger conference space, with a kitchen area for catering staff and restrooms.

The space, which the organization is leasing for five years, is fully accessible and offers more than 100 parking spots. It also provides easier access than the Western Avenue building.

“We wanted a place that was more user-friendly for the community and a better support for our members,” Katie Doherty, chamber president and CEO, said.

This undated advertisement seen on a Museum in the Streets plaque in 2020 shows 105 Second St. in Hallowell back when it was a hotel. The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce plans to move into the building this fall. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The decision to move was not sudden. Kingsbury said chamber officials recognized the need for new space more than a year ago. Earlier this year, the chamber listed its building for sale and started looking for a new space.

“We weren’t looking to move out of Augusta. We were looking to move,” Kingsbury said. “We put the building on the market and it sold a lot quicker than we thought, so it forced our hand to find a location that would fit our needs. If we had found that building in Augusta, we would still be in Augusta. If we found it in Gardiner, we’d be in Gardiner.”

Doherty said she scouted locations across the region, and the chamber settled on the space in Hallowell because it offers more space, plentiful parking and easy access to Augusta and the interstate.


While until now, the chamber had always been located in Augusta, Doherty said it serves 22 communities in addition to Maine’s capital city.

The organization plans to keep its signature events, such as the Kennebec River Brewfest, annual golf tournament and the Kenney Awards, in Augusta.

Doherty said chamber officials looked at the organization’s memberships at the end of 2022 and saw they had grown by about 13%. Those numbers reflect the shift that began during the COVID-19 pandemic as people stepped away from traditional jobs to start their own businesses and enterprises.

The group has just under 700 members, according to Doherty. It aims to strengthen the regional economy by supporting local businesses, advocating for legislation, hosting community events and providing business networking opportunities.

“Katie and her staff have just done an amazing job,” Kingsbury said. “They don’t accept good enough. They want to be a little better than yesterday.”

Doherty said the chamber is adding a full-time marketing position to better support its membership, bringing its number of employees to five.


The new Hallowell location has been a well-known building for decades, known at different times as the Hallowell House and the Worster House.

Built in 1832-33, the project was financed by a group of Hallowell residents who wanted to provide accommodations for state lawmakers, according to information provided by the Maine Memory Network.

John D. Lord, a Hallowell architect, designed the hotel while supervising construction a few miles away of the state capital building in Augusta.

More recently, the building housed the Maine Public Utilities Commission until it moved to new quarters on Katherine Drive.

Construction is underway to reconfigure the space, add walls and flooring, and install carpeting.

Doherty said she expects the chamber will move to Hallowell in October or November.

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.