At the south end of Waterville’s Main Street just steps away from the terrace of the Lockwood Hotel, a small new park celebrates the history of the former Levine’s clothing store and its longstanding ties to Colby and the community.
The triangular strip of land, now called Levine’s Park, also represents the commitment of the College and the city to the continued revitalization of downtown Waterville. Levine’s Park was dedicated during a ceremony July 17 attended by dozens of former Levine employees and city and College officials.
A downtown landmark for more than a century, Levine’s was located where the Lockwood Hotel is now. Built by Colby as part of its investment in downtown, the boutique hotel has been used for student housing the past two years and will open to the public Aug. 15.
Levine’s had deep ties to Colby. The store’s owners, brothers Lewis “Ludy” Levine, Class of 1921, and Percy “Pacy” Levine, Class of 1927, were proud alumni who named a section of the store the “Colby Corner” and painted a mural of the College on a wall. A sister, Dorothy “Bibby” Levine ’38, married philanthropist Harold Alfond, and together they donated generously to Colby.
A plaque in the park honors the Levine family, and a conference room inside the hotel near the terrace is dedicated to Howard Miller ’40, the brothers’ nephew, who managed the store. In addition, a patio on the north end of the hotel is named after the Levine family.
Levine’s was more than a place to shop, said Richard Uchida ’79, vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the College. Levine’s met the needs of its customers and provided personal attention and care, Uchida said, noting that the Levine brothers offered winter clothing to ill-equipped college students who came to Maine from warmer climates.
“Acts of kindness like this illustrate the spirit of Levine’s and the Levine family, and the sense of community they built in Waterville,” Uchida said.
The exemplary customer service became a hallmark of the store and helped it become an anchor institution in Waterville known around the world. Colby built the Lockwood Hotel with the same spirit of community in mind, he said.
“We hope the Lockwood Hotel will join the pantheon of important institutions that have lined Main Street, just like Levine’s. But most importantly, we at Colby hope to continue to embody the spirit and sense of community that the Levine family has bestowed on Waterville,” Uchida said.
When the Lockwood Hotel opens its rooms to the public, it also will expand the hours of its restaurant, Front & Main. Lockwood Hotel General Manager Jordan Rowan said it was important to honor Levine’s legacy.
“When you are moving a city forward the way we are trying to do, it’s important to be sure you are keeping an eye on the past, recognizing how we got here, and paying homage to the roots of the community,” he said. “This site is no longer being used as a department store, but we felt it was important to carve out a spot and celebrate what it once was.”
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