From Preservation to Education
Middlesex Community College on Thursday joined with its city, state, and federal partners to announce the next exciting chapter in the college's development, with the ceremonial passing of keys of the historic Boston and Maine Railroad Depot at 240 Central St., Lowell. More than 120 community members, business people, and legislative partners turned out for the morning celebration inside the vacant building.
The building, known to most Lowellians as the Rialto building because it played home to the Rialto theatre for much of the 20th Century, has been uninhabited for more than two decades. The building was saved from demolition in 1989 by the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, and the Lowell National Historical Park has been responsible for the building since, investing more than $2 million into renovating its exterior.
MCC is acquiring the building in exactly the same procedure it used to acquire the Federal Building in Kearney Square. The college filed an application and has received approval to acquire the building through the General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).
On Thursday, MCC President Carole Cowan acknowledged the work of several key partners who have helped the College reach the milestone, including city leaders, federal agencies such as the GSA and DOE, and the College's federal and state delegation - Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, State Senator Steven Panagiotakos, and State Representatives Thomas Golden, David Nangle, and Kevin Murphy.
Cowan said the college hopes to locate its dance and theatre programs in the building, once funding has been secured to continue with the building's rehabilitation and development.
"It's an exciting day because it marks a significant step forward in our development, and allows us to explore so many new opportunities, not just for our students and faculty, but for our community partners as well," Cowan said. "This is a tremendous example of what happens when agencies work together toward a common good, and have the support of elected officials who can embrace a true vision of change and development for our region. We've got a long, long road ahead of us, but Lowell and our college have a tremendous track record of being able to accomplish great things through enduring partnerships."
From left to right, State Representative Kevin Murphy, MCC President Carole Cowan, MCC Trustees Chair Bill Chemelli, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, LNHP Superintendent Michael Creasey and Glenn Rotondo from the GSA hold the ceremonial skeleton key to the Rialto property.
In the meantime, MCC is seeking your stories and photographs about the old Rialto theatre and bowling alley. MCC is hoping to compile historical anecdotes and photos, and wants you to share your stories and pictures with us, either via the e-mail link atop this blog, or via mail to "Remembering the Rialto, Middlesex Community College, 33 Kearney Square, Lowell, 01852, Attention: Patrick Cook." Be sure to include your mailing address and contact information.