Colby College’s new downtown space for creativity and community interaction was dedicated Tuesday in honor of current college President David A. Greene and his wife, Carolyn. The new space, occupying the longtime home of Waterville Hardware at 18 Main St., was officially named the Greene Block + Studios as part of an opening ceremony.

Longtime Colby College benefactors and arts supporters Peter and Paula Lunder, who donated $3 million toward the $6.5 million project, insisted it be named in the Greenes’ honor.

“David and Carolyn understand that the arts can do so much to enhance the lives of everyone here and can change the spirit of the area,” Peter Lunder said in a statement. “Everyone wants to be with a winner, and right now that winner is Waterville in large part because of David’s visionary leadership. That work deserves recognition now, not later.”

Said Paula Lunder, “David and Carolyn have done so much to elevate the arts as part of the Colby experience and beyond. From the Lunder Institute to this new space on Main Street, their vision for the arts is exactly what we hoped would happen at Colby and in Waterville, Maine.”

Greene returned the compliment, noting that the project involved saving and combining two historic structures in the heart of downtown. The success of the project reflects the Lunders’ commitment to Waterville and the larger community, he said.

“It took vision – and a good dose of faith – to see the possibilities for these long-abandoned buildings to become a centerpiece of Waterville’s revitalization. But the Lunders have an uncanny ability to recognize potential when others only see challenges,” Greene said in a statement. “Their boundless generosity and trust inspire us to do the same. That our family’s name will be forever linked with the Lunders in this building is the honor of a lifetime. We are deeply grateful and humbled.”

With nearly 25,000 square feet, the building includes flexible performance and exhibition space on the ground floor, and the upper floors include flexible artist studios, overseen by the Lunder Institute for American Art, part of the Colby College Museum of Art. The fourth floor houses the Lunder Institute offices.

Colby Museum Director Jacqueline Terrassa described the Greene Block + Studios as “a wonderful bridge, a place to gather in community.”

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