Lincoln Street School sold, art center planned
Rockland — The former Lincoln Street School, where many local residents as children went to classes, has been bought for private development as an arts center.
Mario Abaldo, 50, a former resident of Los Angeles, purchased the three-story building from the city of Rockland Dec. 28.
"We just took over the building," he said Jan. 7. "We plan to repair the roof and put in a new elevator."
Abaldo and his financial partners have formed Orchid, LLC, a Maine corporation that will manage the former school and arts center, and will use the address, 24 Lincoln St., as the headquarters for the new enterprise.
He said he plans to lease out the 1868 historic building and bring it back to its original plan as an arts center. He and his brother Vincent Abaldo own and operate Abaldo Design and Plan and will be doing the renovation work on the building, Mario Abaldo said.
Until the building closed at the end of June 2012, it housed a private high school known as the Watershed School, and the Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education.
"It's a tough building," he said of its durability. "We've already talked with a number of people who think about coming back — glass blowing, pottery, art, music, science and film — and using the 300-plus seat lecture hall."
He plans to tighten the building against the cold by fixing the roof and the heating system. "Back when oil cost three cents a gallon, it didn't matter how drafty it was," he said. "But now you can feel the wind going right up the walls."
Abaldo said he did not want to disclose the purchase price until he had talked with his financial partners in California.
Much of his experience has been in architectural development in the entertainment business in California. He and his wife, the former Sherry Barker, moved to Knox County because of her roots in Union. The couple has two teenage children, a son in the ninth grade at Oceanside High School West and a daughter in the 10th grade at Oceanside High School East.
Local attorney and restaurateur Joe Steinberger said in a phone interview that he was very glad to hear about the purchase.
Steinberger had made a proposal to the city council a few months ago to create a nonprofit cultural arts center, but the council did not go along with the idea.
"I think it's a good idea that he is going to make it a for-profit corporation and run it as a business," Steinberger said. "One of the troubles with a nonprofit corporation for a project like this is that not all the board members are stakeholders."
"I think the way he is doing it makes a lot of sense," Steinberger said of Abaldo. "If he runs it like a business he will be very careful about the decisions he makes."
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.