Dance studio plans to move to former Grange Progressive in Waldoboro


The old Progressive Barn, at 931 Winslows Mills Road in Waldoboro, Tuesday February 16. The building dates from the early 1900s (photo by Bisi Cameron Yee)

The owner of the DanceMaineia studio plans to move into the former Progressive Barn in Waldoboro and reopen there on June 1.

“It’s pretty neat that it was a dance hall back then,” said DanceMaineia founder Melanie Lecher Pagurko. She is thrilled to bring the dancing back to the high ceilings and hardwood floors of the Barn.

Pagurko said she had considered Granges before, but the structures she examined required more work than she could handle. She has had informal conversations with the owners of the Progressive Grange over the past two years and, when they decided to renovate the building, “it kind of evolved from there”.

Heidi Straghan submitted a change-of-use request for the building at 931 Winslows Mills Road to the Waldoboro Planning Council on February 10. The building is passed on to Straghan and her husband, Michael Riley, by probate.

Straghan’s brother-in-law bought the property in 2012, adding a new roof and septic tank and making other improvements. He planned to use the building as a store and community center, but passed away suddenly in 2016. Since then, the family has “procrastinated over whether to keep or sell the building,” but Straghan said they had decided. to keep it.

Built in the early 1900s, the building is currently vacant.

Straghan said there were no plans for structural changes to the building. “La Grange has meant a lot to a lot of people over the years,” she said.

The origins of La Grange in Maine can be traced back to 1868 and the farmers’ clubs that formed to protect agricultural interests. According to the Maine State Grange website, “For nearly 130 years, Grange Halls have existed as community centers where residents come together for educational events, dances, potlucks, town halls, political rallies. and other meetings ”.

La Grange has taken a stand on legislative issues and educational reform, supported men and women in combat and, according to the website, “familiarized farmers and their wives with new and improved scientific methods of agriculture and household management ”.

But after 1960, the Grange declined. Societal changes, including the popularity of television, declining interest in agriculture and unsustainable insurance rates, have resulted in the closure of many local barns.

Detail of the decorative facade of the Progressive Grange in Waldoboro on Tuesday February 16.  There are plans to renovate the historic building.  (photo by Bisi Cameron Yee)

Detail of the decorative facade of the Progressive Grange in Waldoboro on Tuesday February 16. There are plans to renovate the historic building. (photo by Bisi Cameron Yee)

La Grange Progressive closed in 2011. Straghan sees the dance studio as a first step in bringing the building back.

DanceMaineia would rent the second floor, moving out of its current location above Medomak Veterinary Services. Straghan said Pagurko “really loved the space,” a big open floor with a small stage where she could continue to teach ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary dance, and stretching and toning to all ages. .

Potential hours of operation would be from noon to 8 p.m., with around 10 cars entering and exiting every hour.

Straghan said she had asked the Maine Department of Transportation to change the use of the driveway entrance. The DOT recommended a defined entry and exit as opposed to the existing wide opening.

Parking was the main concern of the members of the planning council.

Barbara Boardman, a board member, said the parking area seemed narrow for larger vehicles to negotiate and reflectors or bumpers might be needed to protect cars from a ditch between the Grange and the following property. Boardman also asked if there were any buffer zones between properties to protect the views of neighbors.

Council member Jim Russo called for a “more elaborate parking and traffic plan to scale to ensure there is a well-designed plan before it gets implemented,” citing security students. “It’s doable, it just needs more thinking,” he said.

Max Johnstone, a city planning consultant, volunteered to help Straghan prepare a simple site map.

Council voted to file the request until the requester returns with the parking plan.

“It’s nice to see the building being used again. It’s a good addition to Waldoboro, ”said Scott Simpson, chairman of the planning board.

In other cases, the planning board revisited some issues from the January meeting, including an abstention on The Coffee Can app and a no vote on the Syncarpha solar farm app.

Johnstone said it should be standard practice for members to justify a vote against or abstention and cite the provision in the ordinance prompting the vote so that the applicant can address the issue and resubmit the application if they are wish. The reasons for abstention and refusal were formally recorded in the minutes.

New board member Jeff Erskine was introduced. Erskine was born in upstate New York, but has lived in the Waldoboro area since the age of 5 and attended Medomak Valley High School. Erskine has been in the building since the late 90s.

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