One of Westbrook’s longstanding icons has a new owner.
Last month, Hawkes Plaza and its iconic walking serviceman sign, who has strode motionless alongside Route 302 since 1962, was sold to Portland-based company Rumbel for an undisclosed sum.
Ruby Simkoff, who purchased the plaza with her business partner William Umbel, said they don’t have any specific plans for the plaza. She said she and Umbel will be making some small renovations to bring the plaza up to current codes, but do not plan to make any changes.
“Both of us believe in preservation, and we don’t want to bulldoze old buildings to make new ones,” she said.
Simkoff said she and Umbel plan to make a long-term commitment to the site. “We have no intention of (selling) Hawkes Plaza,” she said. “We intend on keeping it for a very long time.”
This includes the walking serviceman sign, which was erected by the plaza’s former owner, Al Hawkes, as an advertisement for his television business on the site. Simkoff said the serviceman was one of her favorite features of the plaza and the sign would definitely play a role in any future plans for the plaza.
“I like that big man,” Simkoff said. “He’s awesome.”
Simkoff said that she and Umbel are trying to figure out the best use of the plaza. One possible use would be to return the plaza to its musical roots. It is the former home of the Event Records, a record label begun by Hawkes. She said the recording studio is still fairly intact.
“It’s really hard wired for a recording studio,” she said. “We’d like to see someone make use of that. That’s our first choice. If it doesn’t work, we’ll see if anyone is interested commercially.”
Both Simkoff and Umbel have an interest in music. Simkoff has worked as a volunteer disc jockey, hosting a blues show on WMPG-FM for 14 years, and she said Umbel is heavily involved in the Maine Bluegrass Association.
No matter what the future holds for the plaza and the serviceman, Simkoff said she and Umbel would look to find the best fit for the area. “We’re trying to see what the best fit is for the community,” she said. “We want to serve the community.”