Milbridge breaks ground on New Theatre and Arts Center

The New Theatre and Arts Center is expected to be completed by 2022.
The New Theatre and Arts Center is expected to be completed by 2022.(Bryan Sidelinger)
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 9:07 PM EDT
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MILBRIDGE, Maine (WABI) - For nearly 80 years, the Milbridge Theatre stood at the center of town as a community hub.

It was torn down in 2017 after falling into disrepair.

Monday, a revitalization group known as Gateway Milbridge broke ground on a new Theatre and Community Arts Center.

“Milbridge is poised for this,” said Milbridge resident Jacquie Leighton. “This has been a missing link.”

It’s easy to mistake the old Milbridge Theatre location as just a vacant lot when you travel through town on Route 1, but it wasn’t always this way.

“This was the place all the kids came every Friday night and hung out in the streets,” said Town Manager Lewis Pinkham. “We would have 75 to 100 kids here on Main Street just waiting to go to the movies, so it was the place to be.”

Gateway Milbridge has been planning and fundraising for the new facility for six years as the driving force behind the project, according to the group’s Vice Chair Cathy Chipman.

“The opportunity came up for Gateway to raise the money to buy it, to have it torn down, and to raise the money again to put up a new building.”

Patricia Sharp moved to Milbridge in 1991 from Philadelphia, and has fond memories of the old theater.

“I was sad when it closed, and I’m happy to see it going forward again,” she said.

“We’ve had to travel to Ellsworth in the past to see performances, and now we’re going to be able to do it right here in Milbridge,” added Leighton. “It’s so exciting.”

A new theatre and community arts center here in Milbridge has been a long time coming. Today’s groundbreaking was just the next step in reestablishing this spot as a community hub.

“It helps as a whole with a sense of community and what they can gain by being a part of it,” Pinkham said. “The more lights we have on in town, the better off the town is.”

More lights is an idea that Milbridge has rallied behind.

“We figured it would take another three years to get to the funds we have now,” said Pinkham. “It has just been incredible the amount of support and donations we have been getting. That shows just how much everyone in this area can’t wait to see it happen.”

The New Theatre and Arts Center is expected to be completed by 2022.

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