DAMARISCOTTA - Damariscotta’s historic Lincoln Theater is more comfortable, durable, and energy efficient thanks to improvements installed by Evergreen Home Performance and funded byGrants to Green Maine and individual donors in the community. Added insulation and air sealing will keep the Theater cooler this summer and warmer next winter, and will reduce the associated energy costs all year round.

“We’re constantly aware of being good stewards, improving the Theater’s energy efficiency, and staying on top of what an old building needs,” said Andrew Fenniman, Executive Director of the Lincoln Theater.

The 1867 building’s incredible original details – including the original wooden floor, which was laid in a circular pattern to facilitate then-popular roller skating. The downside to the original condition of the building was a lack of insulation and an HVAC system located in a drafty attic. Though much newer, the 1980s annex had its share of comfort and efficiency challenges, too, including a unique open well under the elevator shaft.  “We knew there was room for improvement,” said Fenniman. “As a nonprofit organization, we’re also conscious of using our resources wisely.”

That’s where Grants to Green Maine came in. Grants to Green Maine provides environmentally focused guidance and funding to nonprofits located in historic buildings in Maine downtowns. The program is a partnership between the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center, Efficiency Maine and the Maine Community Foundation and is funded by the Kendeda Fund of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

In 2014, Lincoln Theater was awarded a grant to fund a full energy audit. “The audit was a great starting point,” said Fenniman. “It confirmed some things we knew and pointed out some things we didn’t realize.” When funding became available through Grants to Green Maine and individual donors, Lincoln Theater and Evergreen got to work.

“The logistics of working with an organization are different than those of working with individual homeowners,” said Evergreen Energy Advisor Cree Krull. “There are multiple decision-makers and strict scheduling requirements, but it's a process we enjoy because the rewards affect so many people.”

Evergreen’s crew also enjoyed employing some new techniques in the Lincoln Theater, including creating a vapor-tight cover at the bottom of the perennially wet elevator shaft. Wet basements are common enough in Maine, where many buildings are built on ledge or marine clay, and Evergreen frequently installs vapor barriers. But the open well at the bottom of the elevator shaft was a new challenge, and Evergreen’s solution will dramatically reduce the building’s moisture load.

“We’re already noticing the wonderful lack of a musty smell,” said Fenniman. “It used to be that I’d start wheezing after five minutes in the basement, but now we’re using it for storage.”

Insulation strategies were also modified because the Theater was in daily use during the improvements. Work began early each morning and wrapped up before the matinee each afternoon to minimize disruption during the Theater’s busiest time of year.

“I couldn’t have been happier,” said Fenniman. “Evergreen completed a lot of major work without impacting daily operations at all. When patrons arrived for the daily matinee, the Theater was neat and clean, all of the tiny details were taken care of, and they couldn’t tell any work was going on.”