ST. GEORGE, Maine — A month before the Jackson Memorial Library was ready to break ground for a new expanded library, another local nonprofit organization has donated its property worth more than $1 million.
The Lillius Gilchrest Grace Institute, which has provided education programs for youths in town for more than 70 years, was closing its operations and contacted Jackson Memorial Library in May about whether it was interested in the 5-year-old building located on 8 acres in Tenants Harbor next to the St. George School.
The deed was turned over to the library on July 3. The town has the land valued at $89,900 and the building at $978,000, according to the town office.
The library issued a news release Thursday calling the donation an “extraordinary gift.”
Library President Susan Bates said the $1,654,000 raised already for the new library will be used to renovate the donated complex. She said there will be enough money left to start a substantial endowment for the library.
“By renovating this building, and with the land along the marsh, we’re going to be able to provide more and better services and programs for the entire community,” Bates said in a statement. “It’s an honor for the library to receive this legacy in honor of Lillius Gilchrest Grace.”
The donated building has more than 9,000 square feet.The library that was to be built would have been 4,000 square feet. The current library is 2,100 square feet.
“It’s an incredible building, closer to the school and the town office and will be a bigger and more robust facility,” Library Director Yvonne Gloede said in a statement. “We’re going to be able to do so much more for children, adults and families at this new site. With the closing of the youth center there will be an even greater need for the library to provide more programs aimed at middle school students.”
Over the next few months the library board and building committee will develop a plan for the renovations and a detailed budget. Bates said renovations could begin in November and work could take about six months, but that will be determined over the next few months.
“Thanks to the great generosity of the many donors to our capital campaign, we have the funds to refit this building as a library and community center for all of St. George, as well as to establish an endowment to maintain the renovated building in perpetuity,” said campaign co-chairman Jim Graf. “People have been wonderfully generous, and we know everyone will be so very proud when they come to the new library and see what they have helped to create.”
There will be an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, at the former Grace Institute building for the public to view it before renovations are done.
The Grace Institute also issued a statement about the closure of its youth center.
“It was a very difficult decision to close the youth center after so much hard work by staff and board members,” it said. “The program was strong and such a benefit for the kids of the St. George School, but financial constraints forced the closure. When we learned that the library hadn’t broken ground yet we knew we had an opportunity for the property to continue to benefit the entire community.”
The Lillius Gilchrest Grace Institute was founded in 1940, according to the organization’s Internal Revenue Service filing from 2009. The institute provided consumer science and industrial arts education to St. George youths for decades.
In the 2009 filing, the organization listed expenses of $188,788 and had revenue losses of $180,254. Assets in 2009 totaled $2.4 million.
The organization noted in the IRS filing that it had a contract to have the St. George facility run by Catholic Charities. The youth center closed briefly in January 2011, but center officials would not comment then on why the closure occurred.