Revitalization Unfolding In Downtown Skowhegan 

One local downtown has been getting a bit of a makeover.”It’s an ongoing involvement, downtown and the town itself. The economy had been hard for a number of years now, but we are actually starting to see some upgrade of people’s optimism, and people actually investing in the buildings,” said Skowhegan’s Economic Development Director, Jeff Hewett.One project is credited by many as the jump start to the changes.”The grist mill was one of the major projects that kind got a boost onto the downtown. They took the old jail, converted it over into a grist mill,” said Hewett.It’s those changes that make Dugan Murphy’s job that much easier.”I’m the central coordinator for revitalization of downtown Skowhegan,” said Murphy, who works as the executive director of Main Street Skowhegan.Main Street Skowhegan is part of a national non-profit dedicated to making downtowns across the country sustainable and successful. “The thing with downtown revitalization is some people want it to be like we’re going back to the way things were, and I don’t think there’s really a feasible way to go back to the way Skowhegan was. There’s only a way to learn from the past what things worked, and try to adapt them to the needs of toda,y and the future.”Adapting to the needs of the future and the needs of the people of the area is on the top of the list up the road at 37 Main Street. “The space here was built back in the 1800’s and it originally started as a church,” said Liza Clark-Carbone, a wedding planner and owner of Carbone Collections.In 1955, it became the local VFW until 2009. A couple of years ago a Skowhegan resident, Todd Smith, bought it.”When he purchased it, he bought it, and he had absolutely no idea what he was going to do with the old building,” said Clark-Carbone.After talking to folks around town, “Majority ruled that it needed to become an event hall,” said Clark-Carbone.Smith joined forces with Clark-Carbone to bring his vision to life. The space can hold 300 people. Smith has a ten year $100,000 renovation and restoration plan and has started with the entry way.(Liza)”There’s nowhere else in the area that can give the full potential of this place.”Seeing the town’s potential is evident to locals. “I moved down to Virgina for about six years, then I moved back, and lived in Skowhegan and have definitely seem some significant great changes.”