An anonymous donor has offered the Waldo Theatre a challenge grant to help complete the third phase of the theatre’s renovations and to reopen The Waldo’s doors to the community.

The Waldo Board of Directors launched a three-phase capital campaign in 2018 to save the historic 1936 movie house and later performance venue. Shuttered since 2014, The Waldo required extensive water damage repair, renovations, and upgrades to lighting and technology. The goal was to raise $700,000 by 2020 in order to complete work and reopen as an operational performance space.

Over the course of more than two years, dozens of dedicated volunteers have put in hundreds of hours of work, remediating water damage, removing irretrievable components of the building interior, and re-building, painting, and creating tailor-made Waldo components in order to bring the beloved building at the center of their community back to life.

Maine and regional contractors were hired to repair drainage issues on the exterior of the building, to repair plumbing, and make extensive electrical repairs and upgrades. The entire interior of the auditorium and public areas—walls and ceilings—have undergone plaster repair and painting. Upgrades to the exterior of the building, including the facade and the signature Waldo columns, are underway.

By January 2020, an impressive $300,000 had been raised toward the $700K goal, thanks to significant gifts from foundations and support from individuals. Despite the funding gap, and some budget overruns on exterior drainage repairs, the Board and new Executive Director, Kate Fletcher, wanted to stick to the original timeline to open in 2020. It was important to keep faith with funders and to allow for fundraising from new audiences with the theatre in operation.

Fletcher reached out to several lending institutions, researching the possibility of a construction line of credit that would enable work to move forward this year while fundraising continued. First National Bank, seeing the work already completed, funds raised, and the dedication of the Board and community members, agreed to a $200,000 line of credit to enable work to proceed. Thanks to this influx of capital, repairs and upgrades for occupancy continue, as do the installation of needed audio, projection, and lighting technology. “First National Bank is happy to support the Waldo Theatre, an important landmark in the Waldoboro Community,” says President and CEO Tony McKim. “The Waldo’s commitment to bringing quality family entertainment to northern Lincoln County is good for all local residents and businesses.“

That left $200,000 needed toward the $700,000 goal, with more renovations to complete after the theatre opens.

An anonymous donor, familiar with The Waldo campaign and understanding of the theatre’s essential role in Waldoboro’s future economic growth, offered to match additional community and foundation contributions with a one-time grant of $43,000. The gift is contingent on The Waldo raising the remaining $157,000 toward its $200,000 goal by the end of this year.

Since receiving the challenge in February, $44,000 has already been raised. This includes gifts from the Maine Community Foundation’s Lincoln County Fund, Maine Preservation and the 1772 Foundation, and from individual friends of the theatre. With another $45,000 in potential grant applications, that leaves approximately $68,000 to raise by December 31, 2020 in order to receive the matching grant. Any funds raised above this amount will go to pay down the line of credit.

As the pandemic sent the world into quarantine, many are looking toward the arts for inspiration and hope, and as a distraction from worries. Streaming live performances of music, theatre, and dance is a way to keep our imaginations dreaming. When the time comes for communities to gather again, The Waldo plans to be ready.

“We’re closely monitoring updates to the State’s reopening guidelines and are in touch with other venues in the region about steps we can all take to ensure audiences feel safe and comfortable,” said Fletcher. “The Board of Directors and I want to see the theatre open for our entire community. We’re committed to making The Waldo an inclusive and accessible place for all to experience the exhilaration of live music on stage, theatre productions, movie nights, and community-sponsored events.”

For more information about The Waldo and to help them meet this challenge grant goal, visit