Perhaps the 35-plus children who gathered on the porch for a group photo following the July 4 dedication ceremony of Ocean Point Colony Trust’s new casino and recreational facilities will someday realize the amount of forethought, planning, fundraising, construction and emotions that went into preserving a building and location that has been the heart of the community for over 115 years.
Over 200 residents and generations of families gathered in front of the new casino, some seated in chairs, some standing on the softball field, for the 45-minute ceremony OPCT President Mike Anderson led.
“Only twice in the last 115 years has this community celebrated an event like this,” said Anderson. “Ocean Pointers came together first in 1905 and again in 1975 after the tragic loss (a fire) took the original building. Now we gather to dedicate a fabulous new casino that we all can enjoy and pass on to future generations of Ocean Pointers … Thanks again to all those who gave of their treasure by financially supporting this project. This was truly a community effort.”
The planning for a new casino, tennis/basketball courts and recreation area began 10 years ago, according to Anderson. “We knew that what we had been enjoying since 1975 was worn out and needed replacing, so that’s when we began putting committees together.” In August 2017, the OPCT board voted to replace the casino and upgrade the recreation facilities and a capital campaign began. Over the past three years, over $1 million was raised for the OPCT Preservation Project.
The old casino was razed beginning in September 2019 by E.M Wood, and the Knickerbocker Group got the contract to build the new casino. OPCT contracted with Maine Tennis & Track to build the two Har Tru tennis courts/basketball/pickleball courts.
The new casino has a wrap-around porch, a 46-foot by 30-foot community room, a reading room and an office, an 18-foot by 10-foot kitchen, a two-level storage area and two bathrooms.
Anderson recognized several people during the ceremony. He read the names of the finance committee, the tennis and sports court committee and building committee, and several others.
Anderson first thanked OPCT Vice President Matt Lindley, “a friend, the brother I never had, confidant in all that was important … we gave each other the space to let the best come through.”
The OPCT President pointed out architect Patrick McGranaghan standing in the crowd and said he had such “an eye for detail and gave us a structure that captured the past and will stand the test of time.”
Chairman of the building committee, Doctor Paul Taylor, was also standing in the audience. Before he was asked to say a few words, Anderson said “we could not have done this without him… Since the first week in March, there has not been a day that Paul and I have not talked about something concerning the casino… Thanks Paul, you have been a rock and I appreciate all you have given to this project.”
Taylor prompted cheers and applause when he smiled and asked, “Do you like what you see?” He echoed Anderson’s points that the new casino is special, that it was a community effort and that it is for the enjoyment of Ocean Pointers now and for generations to come.
Lanny Whitehouse, an OPCT trustee and finance committee member, was recognized by Anderson for his fundraising efforts for the project. “Lanny loves this community and his love for Ocean Point can never be questioned … He has always been there. He can raise money and track funds as good as anyone.”
The ceremony then moved on to the unveiling of a special painting done by Ocean Point artist Donald Demers.
In July 2019, Jon and Bev Holt offered a challenge match to the community to help with a $300,000 increase in project costs. The Holts matched the $150,000 fundraising goal; the community came through with over $163,000. To thank the Holts, Demers offered to do a painting.
The painting unveiled Saturday, a view of Grimes Cove, is a “quintessential Ocean Point scene,” Jon Holt said. Both Jon and Bev expressed their love of Ocean Point and its residents. Anderson announced after the unveiling that the Holts have donated the painting to OPCT and Demers’ beautiful rendition of Grimes Cove will hang in the casino’s reading area once the project is completed and in service. Limited edition prints of the painting are being offered for sale.
Lindley followed the art presentation with the reading of a poem written and read at the dedication of the original casino in 1905.
Before the children were called up to the porch for a photo op, the ceremony concluded with benediction messages from the Rev. Charles Carrick and the Rev. Bob Houston. Small tours of the casino were given and children enjoyed the new playground before everyone left to enjoy other planned holiday festivities.
The crowd settled in for the ceremony after watching and participating in the annual Horribles Parade. Then Anderson introduced Iraqi War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Ben Kaler, who presented the American flag, which was raised on the flag pole. The national anthem was played.
During his speech, Anderson reflected on “why does OP mean so much to so many of us.” In brief, Anderson said, “This is a special place where kids can play safely, with parents knowing that neighbors are keeping a watchful eye. Age old traditions like the Horribles Parade or Sunday morning softball, a swim at Grimes Cove, attending a pancake breakfast or Sunday service at Wilson Chapel, pull on our heart string of memories of summers past. Multiple generations share these traditions. We want and need to pass them on and we do. It really is quite simple when you think about it. Something touches the heart and soul of those who spend time here. Memories lie around every corner and we come back to them every summer … the center of all this is the casino, ballfield and tennis courts … It was time for this generation of Ocean Pointers to give back.”