HALLOWELL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — In Hallowell, right next to the state capitol of Augusta, there is a mystery that only a few people in the city have the answer to.
Someone has come forward and donated $1 million to build the community a new fire station.
It began with a simple phone call to the Hallowell fire station.
"It rang and I thought, 'Oh, maybe this is a fire and I answered it,'" said Fire Chief James Owens.
On the other end was a person offering to fund a new fire station. Not just a few thousand dollars, but $1 million. Enough to construct the whole building.
"After I picked the phone up off the floor I came back and said, did you just tell me you were going to build me a fire station," the chief said, "and they said yes and I said, 'OK, thank you.'"
The current station is more than 180 years old. It’s outdated and beginning to fall apart. When looking at their options, city officials considered contracting fire services with Augusta or moving the department to neighboring Farmingdale.
"We had seen some dwindling numbers of volunteers and we wanted to consider all options," said Mayor Mark Walker
The donor wanted no part of either plan.
"Strong feeling of independence," Walker said, "having it here would be best served for the citizens of Hallowell."
The mayor and city councilors swear they don’t know who the donor is, but they have figured out who it’s not.
"We have some, ya know, very prominent citizens in Hallowell and several of them have been, oh, I bet it's him or her, and it's, nope," the mayor said.
One person who does know is the fire chief and he’s been sworn to secrecy or the deal is off.
"It’s difficult. I was reminded, be careful and so, I’m trying," Chief Owens said.
The new station will be located a half mile away at the old Stevens Commons location. City leaders say it is very, very unusual for someone to donate that kind of money to have a public building built.