Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she secured a total of $1,707,000 for Augusta Colonial Theater and Cushnoc Historic Site in the Fiscal Year 2023 Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. As the Ranking Member and lead Republican on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins co-authored the bill.
The omnibus funding package passed the Senate by a vote of 68-29. It will now be passed by the House before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Cultural institutions are part of the fabric of communities and enrich the lives of residents,” said Senator Collins. “The Colonial Theater has been a part of the fabric of Augusta’s downtown for more than a century. By giving this historic theater a much-deserved second act, this renovation and expansion project will resurrect this performing arts venue for the enjoyment of local residents.”
“Additionally, Old Fort Western has long been a draw for visitors and school groups seeking to learn about our state’s history,” Senator Collins continued. “I advocated for funding to rebuild a replica of the Cushnoc Trading Post, which will enhance the fort’s educational purpose and help tell the story of Maine’s Native American tribes as well as the earliest European settlers in the region.”
Augusta Colonial Theater
$1,500,000 will support the renovation and expansion of Augusta Colonial Theater, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
The project will renovate the 1,000-seat theater and make it wheelchair accessible. In addition, the project will entail an attached 3-level auxiliary building adjacent to the Theater. The new building will include an elevator and will house various services necessary for a fully operational arts and cultural center, such as expanded restrooms; adequate water supply systems; additional HVAC systems; as well as conference rooms, rehearsal rooms, and classrooms for rent. On the top floor, overlooking the Kennebec River, there will be an income-producing restaurant to provide self-sufficiency.
The theater will be fully activated as a center for arts and culture that will include live performances, lectures, concerts, international streaming performances, and a home for the Kennebec Performing Arts (formerly the Augusta Symphony Orchestra). The pre-existing Youth Theater will be expanded, and a Senior Theater will be initiated. Both programs require rehearsal and performing spaces.
Cushnoc Historic Site
$207,000 will support the effort to rebuild a replica of the Cushnoc Trading Post over the original site of the 1628 archaeological site, which is adjacent to Old Fort Western. The structure will be the only Native American museum in Central Maine and will serve as an education center on early Native American and colonial affairs.
Cushnoc Trading Post was the northernmost outreach of the Plymouth Colony. Dealing primarily in the burgeoning fur trade, Pilgrims at Cushnoc forged a unique partnership with members of the local Abenaki tribe that not only helped sustain the Pilgrims back in Massachusetts, but helped them pay off the debts to their London backers.