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A Message From Norway Downtown & The Norway Opera House

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Written by: Norway Opera House
The Norway Opera House and its illuminated first-floor businesses as it stands today. Photo: Cait Bourgault

Norway Downtown Secures $1.78 Million For the Renovation of the Norway Opera House


After nearly a year of waiting, Norway Downtown has received exciting news that their request of $1,788,000 for the renovation of the Norway Opera House has been approved by the Senate as a part of the Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. This renovation project has been a shared dream of our organizations and community since the town of Norway took possession of the building by eminent domain in 2007 following a partial roof collapse and rear wall damage, compromising the integrity of the building.

The Norway Opera House was constructed in 1894 after a great fire swept through parts of town, leaving much of the downtown burned to the ground. The swift reconstruction of the Opera House was a symbol of the community’s resolve and the building has stood as a beacon of hope and perseverance ever since. Over the course of the last two decades, Norway Downtown, an affiliate program of the Maine Downtown Center, has been at the forefront of our successful Main Street revitalization. Through the diligent application of the Main Street model coupled with the Four Point approach emphasizing economic vitality, organization, promotion, and design, our community has witnessed a remarkable transformation from a landscape marred by neglect and vacant storefronts to the lively hub of activity that defines our Main Street today.


With its distinctive clock tower and Romanesque arch, the Norway Opera House has housed several local-owned businesses, including The Raven Collections, Fiber & Vine, and Handmade in Maine, on the first floor for over a decade. The upcoming renovations are nothing short of yet another metamorphosis for Main Street and with Norway Downtown leading the charge, the timing has never been better.

Main Street Norway after the great fire of 1894. Photo: Norway Historical Society.

This isn't just a win for us—it's a promise of vibrancy, a nod to our heritage, and a leap towards an exciting future,” says Scott Berk, President of Norway Downtown.

The awarded funds will be directed towards the immediate structure repairs required to welcome the public back into the building. Roof trusses, back wall repairs including window replacements, and a completely new roof will be addressed first. This will allow the internal scaffolding to be removed from the second and third floors, opening up the performance and balcony levels.

Matt Delamater, President of the Norway Opera House, states, “We are proud to work in concert with Norway Downtown to finally realize the dream of welcoming the public back into the Norway Opera House. It's a partnership that's paved the way to this momentous milestone.”

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Senator Collins, Senator King, and their offices for standing by this capstone project that anchors our economic and cultural revival. A special thanks goes out to the Norway Downtown and Norway Opera House Board of Directors, and our visionary architect, Jake Keeler, who has been instrumental in the process.

This is an exciting time for the town of Norway. We want you to be on the forefront of our renovation journey. We invite you to join the Norway Opera House mailing list, attend one of our upcoming summer concerts, or make a donation to help us once again open the doors of the Norway Opera House to the community.


Scott Berk, President of Norway Downtown
Matt Delamater, President of the Norway Opera House


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Congress Approves Nearly $9.7 Million for Maine Historic Restoration Projects Secured by Senator Collins

The funding now heads to the President to be signed into law

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she secured $9,699,000 in Congressionally Directed Spending for six historic restoration projects in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill.  The bill, which was included in legislation that passed the Senate today, now heads to the President to be signed into law.

“Historic institutions are part of the fabric of Maine communities and enrich the lives of residents,”said Senator Collins.  “This funding will support the restoration and maintenance of six historic institutions, helping to revitalize communities and promote economic development.  As Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I worked hard to secure this funding, which will help connect Mainers with their heritage for generations to come.”

Funding secured by Senator Collins for Maine historic restoration projects in the FY24 THUD appropriations bill is as follows:

  • Bangor Opera House Improvements 
    Recipient: Penobscot Theatre Company 
    Project Location: Bangor, ME  
    Amount Requested: $239,000 
    Project Purpose: To support safety and facility improvements at the 102-year-old Bangor Opera House. 

  • Historic Downtown Building Rehabilitation Recipient:
    Ellsworth Historical Society 
    Project Location: Ellsworth, ME  
    Amount Requested: $500,000 
    Project Purpose: To rehabilitate a 19th-century historic building for economic and educational development.   

  • Bell Tower Rehabilitation 
    Recipient: Christ Episcopal Church  
    Project Location: Gardiner, ME  
    Amount Requested: $890,000 
    Project Purpose: To rehabilitate a historically significant bell tower, which houses an original Paul Revere foundry bell. 

  • Mechanics' Hall Revitalization 
    Recipient: Maine Charitable Mechanic Association 
    Project Location: Portland, ME  
    Amount Requested: $2,860,000 
    Project Purpose: To modernize and improve the accessibility of Mechanics’ Hall. 

  • Washburn Norlands Restoration 
    Recipient: Washburn Norlands Foundation 
    Project Location: Livermore, ME  
    Amount Requested: $3,422,000 
    Project Purpose: To restore two 19th-century historic properties for educational and community uses.

  • Norway Downtown Economic Development and Revitalization 
    Recipient: Norway Downtown Revitalization 
    Project Location: Norway, ME  
    Amount Requested: $1,788,000 
    Project Purpose: To renovate a 19th-century historic building to support economic development. 

In 2021, Congress reinstituted Congressionally Directed Spending.  Following this decision, Senator Collins has secured more than $500 million for hundreds of Maine projects for FY2022 and FY2023.  As the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins is committed to championing targeted investments that will benefit Maine communities.