Bangor Public Library to auction off pieces of 100-year-old copper roof

Work is almost complete on the new roof for the Bangor Public Library. The 100-year-old copper roof will have pieces of it auctioned off on Jan. 21.
Work is almost complete on the new roof for the Bangor Public Library. The 100-year-old copper roof will have pieces of it auctioned off on Jan. 21. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 10, 2014, at 2:04 p.m.
Enclosed so Roof Systems of Maine employees can work safely in any weather, the new copper dome atop the Bangor Public Library features an exquisite design that incorporates a cupola. Launched in June 2013, the roof replacement project will be completed in mid- to late January 2014.
Lisa Frazell | Bangor Public Library
Enclosed so Roof Systems of Maine employees can work safely in any weather, the new copper dome atop the Bangor Public Library features an exquisite design that incorporates a cupola. Launched in June 2013, the roof replacement project will be completed in mid- to late January 2014.

With work nearly complete on the Bangor Public Library’s new copper roof — a feat for which the community raised $9 million — it’s time to say goodbye to pieces of the 100-year-old roof. The venerable and beloved but leaky copper dome was removed from the top of Bangor’s library last year, and since then, it’s been sitting in storage, with library staff scratching their heads at what to do with it.

Bangor Public Library marketing and development director Lisa Frazell had an idea when she saw the dome up close: Why not auction it off in pieces, so residents and library lovers could have a part of Bangor history?

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the library will hold a fundraising auction and celebration of the old roof, set for 5-7 p.m. in the Bangor Public Library Lecture Hall. At 5 p.m., there will be a silent auction, refreshments and music from Bangor-based big band Sentimental Journey. The live auction will begin at 6 p.m.

“There are too many unique pieces [of the roof], and it would be a shame to not recycle it in some manner,” said Frazell. “The library is rich in history, not only in the building itself, but in housing the history of Bangor and much of the region. I felt that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people who love the library and our history to own a piece of what makes Bangor beautiful.”

The silent auction will feature smaller pieces of the roof, as well as custom jewelry made out of pieces of the copper by the artisans at Maine Jewelry & Art, a fine art shop located diagonally across from the library on Harlow Street. The larger pieces of the roof will be auctioned off in a live auction-style setting. All proceeds will benefit the library.

Once the pieces are purchased, it’s up to the winning bidders to decide what to do with them, though Frazell has heard a variety of interesting proposals for their use.

“I’ve heard everything from historians who want to have it just as a historical item, to people being interested in using these scrap pieces as a kind of backsplash for their kitchen,” said Frazell. “It’s mostly recycling or repurposing it for something else.”

Interest in the old roof has been high even before the auction was organized. Though the library could have simply sold the 100-year-old copper for scrap — copper currently fetches $3.35 a pound — library staff thought it would be a more meaningful gesture to auction it off to people who would value it as a symbol of Bangor.

“Even before the public announcement, we have had people questioning us for months about what was going to happen with the original copper,” said Frazell. “I think people are really excited to have this chance.”

For information about the auction, visit www.bpl.lib.me.us/Events/Auction.html.

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