Carla Durgin, wife of the late Nelson Durgin, listens to her son Michael speak at the Eastern Area Agency on Aging's ribbon cutting ceremony for the Durgin Center in Brewer Wednesday morning. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Eastern Area Agency on Aging opened a new community center for older adults, caregivers and adults with disabilities in Brewer on Wednesday, named for a former Bangor City Council chair and advocate for seniors who died in 2020.

The Durgin Center offers activities, classes, meals and opportunities to socialize for hundreds of seniors in the agency’s four-county service area. Its opening marks the first time since 2015, when the former Hammond Street Senior Center closed, that the Bangor area has had a community gathering spot for seniors.

The activities room in the Durgin Center in Brewer. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“We’re looking for teachers, leaders, people to attend classes, and hosts for events — all of those things that could make life, love, happiness and joy happen here,” said Rebecca Kirk, the Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s executive director.

The center opened in December 2021 with limited capacity, and more than 100 people have participated in programs since then, said Dan Frye, the agency’s development director. The nonprofit will expand its offerings following Wednesday’s grand opening, Frye said.

Aside from activity spaces, the center also has a large kitchen where volunteers sort and package meals for the nonprofit’s Meals on Wheels Program, which serves thousands in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock and Washington counties. The agency went from delivering about 68,000 meals in 2017 to roughly 188,900 meals in 2020.

Amy Leland, a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, packages food for delivery in the kitchen of the Durgin Center in Brewer on Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

The center will also have hot meals available for people in the cafe, with a suggested $7 donation but no set fee.

The nonprofit expects the center will serve between 600-700 people and serve 4,500 meals in the community cafe in the first year.

The center is located at 274 State St. in Brewer’s Twin City Plaza in the space that the former Twin Super Buffet occupied until 2013. The agency’s headquarters are housed nearby in the same shopping complex.

The nonprofit hopes the new community center will help stave off social isolation, physical inactivity and food insecurity in the area’s population of older adults, caregivers and adults with disabilities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that loneliness and social isolation raise a person’s risk of premature death.

Bob and Dolly White of Dover-Foxcroft look at photos of Nelson Durgin displayed in a glass case in the lobby of the new Durgin Center in Brewer. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

People ages 65 and older range from 18.5 percent to 26.4 percent of the population within Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock and Washington counties, according to the U.S. Census.

The new center will also help fill a void in the region’s offerings for seniors after the Hammond Street Senior Center in downtown Bangor closed its doors in October 2015 for financial reasons.

“When the Bangor Senior Center closed in 2015 there was a huge need in the community for a place like this,” said Ellen Angel, president of Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s board. “We wanted to have a place where everyone could come together. We need that opportunity to socialize, and this center is for that. Since the pandemic, we need that more than ever, but it’s even less available.”

The agency launched a campaign to fund the construction of the center in June 2021 with a $533,000 goal. Frye said the nonprofit reached about 80 percent of its fundraising goal, solely from donations from individuals, businesses and foundations.

The Durgin Center is named after the late Nelson Durgin, a long-time leader in the community and advocate for seniors. The center provides an active gathering space that invites the adult community together for enriched wellness, educational, cultural, and recreation life experiences. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

The center is named for Maj. Gen. Nelson Durgin, a former Bangor City Council chair and advocate for Maine veterans, early childhood education and the elderly. A former Maine adjutant general, Durgin served on the Eastern Area Agency on Aging board for 14 years. He died in September 2020 at age 83.

Kirk said the center, “Nelson’s space,” represents “everything he stood for.”

“He represented such service to the community,” Angel said. “If he saw a need, he found a way to fill that need. He brought people in and inspired us to serve the public in any way we could.”

Michael Durgin speaks at the Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the Durgin Center in Brewer on Wednesday. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

Michael Durgin, Nelson Durgin’s son, said his father would often drive by the new center before it was completed after he knew it would be named for him.

“I remember him speaking about when the facility in downtown Bangor closed,” Durgin said. “That affected him as much as it affected the community. To have a facility like this bear his name is incredible.”


Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...