June 17, 2018
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Library gets grants for restoration project

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

BUCKSPORT, Maine — The Buck Memorial Library has received two grants that will enable it to continue restoration work on the 123-year-old building this summer.

The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation has awarded the library a $50,000 restoration grant, and the Belvedere Historical Preservation Fund, working through the Maine Community Foundation, has provided a $15,000 grant for the project.

According to Robert Blake, chairman of the library’s board of trustees, this is the second grant the library has received from the King Foundation. The foundation provided a grant of $50,000 in 2003 when the restoration work on the building began.

“This is part of a multiyear project to repair all four walls,” Blake said Tuesday. “This year we’ll be working on the north wall.”

The problem, Blake said, is that the north wall is very porous. The mortar is old, and some of it has dissolved, allowing moisture into the building. The north wall is where the electrical entrance is located, and the moisture has caused problems with some of the electronic equipment in the building, he said.

“It’s important for us to replace that particular wall,” he said.

The project is complicated and expensive. The granite facing does not support the building; there is a brick wall behind it that provides support for the roof. According to Blake, the entire wall will have to be removed, including all the granite facing blocks, the brick wall and the interior walls of the library.

“We’re going to have to open that wall completely up,” he said. “We’ll build a partition to keep the dust out, but this has got to be done during the warm weather because it’s going to be wide open.”

The library will remain open for regular hours during the project.

The project also will include moving the electrical entrance temporarily and removing a portion of the slate roof.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and so must comply with construction guidelines from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Blake said.

The total cost of this phase of the project is $110,000, he said. The library has completed work on one wall and a portion of the front wall of the library. It will still have the rest of the front wall to repair, as well as the west wall.

The library trustees hope to have work begin in July and to be completed this fall.

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