• Amarinda Keys

An Inside Look at the USDA RD process


Ownership has always been an important part of the museum’s plans for expansion. It allows the museum to

  • have control over how the building is used and maintained

  • gain equity on the building year after year

  • receive rental income from the portion of the building not being used for museum purposes

In August 2020 (on Executive Director Amarinda's birthday- what a great birthday present!🎈) the USDA Rural Development Program awarded us financing through a competitive loan and grant program which allowed us to purchase the building and will fund necessary renovations of the building. We purchased 7 Eustis Parkway in Waterville in November of 2020.

The room that will become our exhibit hall when the building was owned by the Waterville UCC Church

When we first set out to look for a new space, we toured many older buildings, most of which needed lots of work and lots of money. We are so grateful to have found such a beautiful home at 7 Eustis Parkway. The building was previously the Waterville UCC Church, who kept it in wonderful condition.


Read more about why we love our building in one of our first blog posts or take a peek inside!

There is still some work that needs to be done in order to prepare the space for the museum, and it is relatively straightforward. The renovations include removing a few small platforms and stages, constructing 2 accessible restrooms, creating fire separations in several areas, painting, electrical work, and reconfiguring portions of the parking area.

So what have we been doing all of this time between purchasing the building and starting renovations?

Here were the key steps:

Nov 2020 Purchased the building

March 2021 Hired Margaret Innes of Studio E.

June 2021 CDM & Studio E negotiate a draft AIA contract per USDA requirements

Sept 2021 Contract approved by USDA

Nov 2021 Initial schematic drawings submitted to USDA

April 2022 90% Construction Documentation submitted to USDA

June 2022 90% Construction Documentation approved

July 2022 Final Document Package submitted to USDA, Advertisement for Bid released

August 8th Bids close and contractor is hired soon after

In addition to Margaret, the museum also worked with Civil Engineer Esther and Electrical Engineer Sarah who helped to create the plans for the building renovations.

Next up, we will review bid proposals and hire our contractor. We are also waiting for approval of our plans from the State and local Fire Marshals. Then, the work will commence. Finally, once these renovations are completed, we will be ready to install our exhibits!

Aside from the contractor, who will be focused primarily on the inside of the space, we are so grateful for a partnership with Lakeside Landscaping, who is donating the labor and materials for both ADA ramps that are required for egress at the front and back of the building. Once we receive approval from the Fire Marshall, they can move forward.

Dancing around the maypole in our front lawn this spring!

Receiving the loan and grant from the USDA has required a lot of work, paperwork and time, but it has allowed the museum to focus its fundraising efforts on the design and build-out of the exhibit hall. It is also much more fun (and easier!) to fundraise for our beautiful new exhibits than, say, new bathrooms!


As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts and a good amount of people working behind the scenes to create this children’s museum. We are grateful to our partners, supporters, staff, board, and contractors for working diligently and relentlessly to create the museum. It’s going to be beautiful and worth the wait!


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