On January 26, 1876, an extravagant gala was held to celebrate the brand-new Lincoln Hall. This two-story Italianate brick theater quickly became the social center of the Damariscotta community, hosting dances, roller skating, graduations, community meetings, conventions and live performances. Two small dressing rooms flanking the stage are still filled with signatures and graffiti that tell the story of company productions as far back as 1902. By the 1920s the theater was outfitted to play moving pictures and silent films, eventually transitioning talkies and modern films.
The last ten years have been a time of growth for Lincoln Theater. Renovations added office space, an elevator, and handicap accessible bathrooms. New seats and a Main Street marquee were incorporated followed by air-conditioning, a renovated roof and ceiling, and an upgraded digital movie system.
In 2014, the Maine Development Foundation, in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation, awarded the Lincoln Theater funding through the “Grants to Green” program, leading to a complete energy audit of the building. As a result, the large windows became the main focus of repairs necessary for the theater to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency. Many of the original windows were broken or missing and needed upgraded weather-proofing to save energy. With support from the Davis Family Foundation and community members, the window restoration project was set in motion, and Bagala Window Works stepped in to help.
Marc Bagala and his team are experts at restoring historic windows, and immediately began tackling seven of the theater’s originals. They uncovered boarded-up windows, re-glazed all existing panes (91, to be exact), and replaced 5 sashes. They also had to remove spray foam insulation, a previous attempt at weather-proofing, because it prohibited the original window weight balance systems from working correctly. They traded out spray insulation for metal interlocking weather stripping, allowing the windows to open easily once again. Last but not least, the team soundproofed the theater’s backstage windows!
This window work did wonders, and natural light now streams into the theater, making the space usable for a greater number of functions. Energy efficiency has increased thanks to the greater insulating power of reglazed panes, and there is better ventilation because of operable sashes. Last, but not least, the restored windows allow all who visit to experience the same excitement and beauty of the original design.