Mission and History
The Denmark Arts Center is dedicated to furthering the creation and appreciation of the arts in a context informed by our specific power of place in Denmark, ME. We pursue our mission in three distinct program areas:
– The presentation of a vibrant arts program for local and visiting audiences in the region.
– The provision of participatory opportunities for artists through commissions, performances, workshops, classes and residencies.
– The delivery of high-quality educational programs for children and youth in partnership with regional schools and youth organizations.
“Had a good time discussing the question of the hall, and we could almost see a stately hall in our mind’s eye, looming up grandly, with the three golden links decorating its end fronting the street”
(Minutes: Lodge #50 IOOF, May 15, 1883).
The Odd Fellows Hall was built in the Italinate Victorian Style in the lower village of Denmark, Maine, under the hill, in 1884 for $1,360.32. It became an important social center for the citizens of Denmark and surrounding towns for over a hundred years.
Land for the stables was purchased from J.N. Smith for $10.50 in 1885, and the stables were built in 1894 at a cost of $380.53. In 1905 the lodge was reminded that the contract for this land stated that J.N. Smith should have all manure made at the stable. The lodge bought another strip of land from Mr. Smith in 1895 for $120. The lower hall was sheathed in 1903 for $109.26, and in 1908 an addition was built. Fifteen gas lights were installed in 1911 for $237.50, and in 1913 land on the East side of the hall was purchased from Mrs. Richardson for $75. Electricity was added in 1918 and a movie booth was built in 1921. A new floor was laid in the dance hall in 1950 for $937.66 and a tonic cooler was purchased. Through these years the hall was rented to pay for the improvements; and plays, movies, and dances were always well attended.
When Raymond Hale, the last member of Lodge 350 passed away the town purchased the Odd Fellows Hall. Town meetings were held there through 1986 when the town moved its offices to the converted village school. At the town meeting in 1991 it was decided to sell rather than demolish the hall. Henry Banks, the successful bidder, with the help of Alex Stevens and others, worked to restore the use of the building as an arts center. In August 1994 he signed over the deed of the Odd Fellows Hall to the Denmark Arts Center, a non profit organization.
From that time until present, the old building, now the Denmark Arts Center, has again served as a community focal point, providing cultural activities for the people of Denmark and surrounding towns.