Support Historic Restoration in Wiscasset - vote YES on question 3
An important question that will be part of Wiscasset Town Elections on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.
Question 3 asks: Shall the Town authorize and delegate to the Board of Selectmen to negotiate and enter into a long-term lease agreement with the Maine Art Gallery for the use of the Academy Building located on Warren St. for a period not to exceed 20 years and on terms acceptable to the Board of Selectmen?
We ask for your affirmative vote on this question, and here’s why:
Known as the “Red Brick School” or the “Old Academy Building,” the beautiful structure is on the National Register of Historic Places as well as Wiscasset’s Museum in the Streets. The gallery hosts many visitors on the museum tour as a welcome to Wiscasset, and also welcomed 1,300 visitors to the gallery exhibits in 2021.
As you can imagine, this 215-year-old building needs repairs including restoration of the windows, eaves and repair of the foundation masonry. As the only tenant for the past 65 years, the gallery's Trustees, members, and volunteers have contributed funding and sweat equity to maintain the physical integrity of the building including putting on a new roof, painting, and making other repairs. But more needs to be done and obtaining preservation funding is one option we are pursuing.
Grant sources have told us that to be successful in obtaining their support, the gallery should have a long-term lease that confirms that the physical improvements they are funding are commensurate with the duration of the benefits to be received by the organization seeking their contributions. This is a natural and prudent expectation.
The Maine Art Gallery and the Town have had a constructive partnership covering the Old Academy Building since before it was listed on the National Registry in 1970. We believe we can continue this decades-long relationship for the cultural benefit of artists of the Mid-coast and residents of Wiscasset and the greater Lincoln County area. We believe endorsing this existing history with a longer lease term will enable us to reach out to new sources of funding and thereby ensure the survival of this Wiscasset historic treasure.
Thanks to your participation and many others, the Maine Art Gallery enjoyed a robust and successful 2021 season, nearly tripling the number of visits to our gallery, elevating exhibit quality, growing our membership, and hosting regular community receptions as well as education programs.
We thank you in advance for your continued support. Your vote "YES" on Question 3 will be a vote of confidence in the judgment of the Selectmen and the stewardship of the Maine Art Gallery. Together we will advance the long-term preservation of the Old Academy Building and help fulfill its potential as a Wiscasset center for artistic expression, education and community enrichment.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or our gallery manager, Kerry Hadley, at info@maineartgalleryWiscasset.org.
Wendy Ross, President
David Pope, Vice-President and Chairman, Building Maintenance Committee
Celia Ludwig, Secretary, Membership Manager