Events in downtown Waterville Oct. 20 highlighted the close relationship of the city and the College, as Colby launched its bicentennial celebration in the community that birthed it, nurtured it, and on more than one occasion bailed it out of financial trouble.
Alongside the Kennebec River in the Hathaway Creative Center, about 150 people attended a reception and heard a panel discussion about what was going on in the world, in the nation, and at the College in 1813. On behalf of the city Waterville Mayor Karen Heck ’74 accepted the gift of a Maine-crafted slate bench engraved with the bicentennial seal from President Bro Adams.
“While I am here to accept this gift, I want to thank Colby,” Heck said, “for the myriad ways in which it enhances the quality of life here in Waterville, contributes to our economic health, and continues to offer itself in friendship and partnership in our effort to create a vibrant, prosperous Waterville that will continue to draw visitors and, we hope, investors and new residents, from around the world.” She presented Adams a commemorative proclamation published in the Morning Sentinel and signed by 15 living mayors of the city, four of them Colby graduates.
The event was introduced by Paul Boghossian ’76, who bought and restored the former Hathaway Shirt Co. mill, turning it into residential and commercial space. “After eight years and nearly thirty-two million dollars there are nearly five hundred people living in the building,” he said, promising expanded office space and a brew pub yet to come.
College Historian Earl Smith, Assistant Professor of History Dan Tortora, and Katz Professor of History Rafael Scheck spoke respectively on the city, the country, and world affairs in 1813.
Earlier in the afternoon scores of people congregated at Railroad Square Cinema to watch the feature-length film In Their Footsteps, which traces Colby’s 200 years of history. Eric Ewers, who has worked with Ken Burns for 20 years and produced the Colby film, explained that Vice President Sally Baker called and asked him to make a 10 to 20-minute film on Colby’s history for the College’s bicentennial. After reviewing sources, “I called Sally back and said, ‘How about a miniseries?’”
There were so many great stories about heroic figures and near-disasters in Colby’s history, Ewers said, that the first cut of the film ran two full hours. “If you focus on human emotion, you can capture an audience,” he said.
On Oct. 19 an on-campus bicentennial kickoff event featured Doris Kearns Goodwin '64 as keynote speaker. Bicentennial events continue through the year and across the country.