The Kennebec Valley Inn is coming down.
For some, the inn in the heart of downtown Skowhegan is a historic landmark.
To others, it has become an eyesore, the often vacant, faded glory of a time when the railroad trains still came to town.
Now the Skowhegan Economic Development Corp. has purchased the three-story building for $73,000 and plans to tear it down.
“The aim of the board was to buy it, abate it and then remove the building itself,” said Jeff Hewett, Skowhegan’s director of economic and community development and part-time secretary of the SEDC. “SEDC is always looking for projects that make economic sense for Skowhegan – what will have the biggest impact for all of Skowhegan, not just the downtown.”
Hewett said the SEDC hopes to create a new, multi-use building on the site.
The abatement work will include removing asbestos from some of the flooring, from pipes in the basement and from some of the exterior siding on the third floor of the building, all of which legally has to be done before the building is torn down.
The building, owned by Dale and Eunice Thorpe, is three stories tall, with each floor measuring about 10,000 square feet.
Dale Thorpe said he bought the building in 1984 and doesn’t have a problem with it being torn down.
“It was just time to sell it,” Thorpe said. “All of our memories are good memories. It will have nothing to do with being torn down. We can enjoy the memories. That’s called evolution. We keep evolving.”
Melvin Burnham, the retired former director of the Skowhegan History House and Museum, agreed with Thorpe.
“As a community person interested in local history, I hate to see our old buildings torn down because they are part of the fabric of our cultural heritage,” Burnham told the Morning Sentinel via social media. “They have stories that inform us of our history. However, unless someone has deep pockets and an interest in repurposing old buildings, they become obsolete and beyond practical repair.”
The site of the Kennebec Valley Inn is the original Maine Central Hotel, which was built in 1904, consisting of a renovated wing of the Heselton House hotel on Water Street, where the Municipal Building now stands, according to material from the Skowhegan History House.