Renovation Begins for Historic Skowhegan Building

SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WABI) - A historic building in downtown Skowhegan is getting a fresh start.

Possible plans for the Water Street location include a restaurant and an Air BNB, all with the hopes of boosting tourism in the area.

"You look in the window now and it looks like a construction site."

Skowhegan is in the midst of a major downtown revitalization project, starting with this historic three story building on Water Street constructed in the late 1890's.

"It was a pharmacy a couple times, it was an attorney's office, it was a Radio Shack, Western Auto. Most recently, it was a restaurant. It stayed dormant for two years and then there were some vandalism done to it."

That's when downtown property owner Jason Cooke stepped in.

"Demolition has been completed in the building. Everything has been gutted."

The project will be completed in several phases, starting with two street level storefronts, followed by renovating the second and third floors into short term Air BNB rentals.

"It's going to bring in people from away that are going to be looking for quality night stays, close in the area, and hopefully this will accommodate that."

The renovation is centered around a proposal to make the Kennebec River a rafting destination, an idea that has been in the works for nearly ten years.

"So the Run of River Project is a proposed whitewater park for whitewater enthusiasts to come, park your cars, throw your boats in the water, play for a few hours, stay all day and then be able to enjoy downtown Skowhegan."

Cooke says the newly acquired Water Street location would be an ideal destination for tourists and longtime residents.

"The way Skowhegan is going is moving right now, it's a good time to invest."

With the arrival of the whitewater rafting crowd, coupled with concertgoers at the renovated Opera House down the street, the opportunity for tourism and economic growth is endless.

And Cooke is excited to be apart of it.

"We can turn this into another thriving business in the downtown."