May 25, 2018
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Yarmouth group raises $1 million for renovation of historic library

By Brendan Twist, The Forecaster

YARMOUTH, Maine — Merrill Memorial Library this week announced it has reached its $1 million fundraising goal, as renovation of the 108-year-old building continues.

The capital campaign funds, raised over the past year, will supplement a $1.5 million renovation bond approved by voters last June by a 3-to-1 margin.

The renovation, designed by Barba and Wheelock Architecture of Portland and managed by Landry/French of Scarborough, spans the entire library and includes the creation of a roughly 1,000-square-foot covered entryway, vestibule and gathering space.

“It’s a place for people to meet and talk,” said Gro Flatebo, president of the library’s board. “During story hour, I envision there’ll be 10 strollers in there.”

The library’s third floor, which has gone largely unaltered since being built in 1905, will look much the same as it did before, with bright oak flooring and period light fixtures.

But the space will be brought up to code, with no more knob and tube wiring, and much of it will be repurposed for programming like poetry readings and book club meetings. A speaker system and projector will be installed, and the portion of the third story built in 1988 will house new bathrooms, a kitchenette and a staff room.

The whole building will have sprinklers, improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and restored windows.

The first floor will have a new tutoring area, and the second story will feature a quiet reading room named for the late Joan Wilbur Goddard, a town resident and library trustee who died in 2012.

Construction is expected to be completed by late October, Flatebo said, and then it should take about a month to move the collection back inside. The library in March moved to a temporary space at 65 Forest Falls Drive, but many of the its 45,000 volumes are in storage.

The capital campaign’s lead gift, a combined $200,000, came from Leon Gorman, chairman emeritus of the board of L.L. Bean, and his wife, Lisa, as well as Leon’s daughter, Jennifer Wilson, and her husband, Bennett, Flatebo said.

The library will continue to raise funds for interior and garden furniture and special projects, Flatebo said.

“Merrill Memorial Library is a signature building in Yarmouth and a source of community pride,” Flatebo said. “Bringing this building up to date will allow us to adapt to how people want to use libraries in the coming decades.”


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