CANAAN— After 63 years in a former one-room schoolhouse with no running water or plumbing, the Canaan Public Library officially moved on Saturday to a new home — with bathrooms and about three times the library space — on Route 23.

Dozens of people attended a grand opening at the new library, which was completed earlier this year with a combination of town-raised money, grants and donations collected over the last 11 years.

“Everyone is very excited. You can see all the buzz in here now,” said Candi Soll, president of the library’s board of trustees, as she handed out slices of cake to visitors on Saturday.

The new 2,100-square-foot space more than triples the size of the old library, which was about 640 square feet and was on U.S. Route 2 at the site of the former Nason School, a one-room schoolhouse that dates to the 1850s. That building now will be used to house the Canaan Historical Society, and the town plans to move historical records — currently scattered in attics around town since a fire in 1995 at the Town Hall — to the former schoolhouse.

The new library’s 14-acre lot was donated by residents Clinton and Louise Townsend and borders Carrabassett Stream. With help from different parts of the community and other organizations around Maine, the building slowly came together for Saturday’s grand opening.

There are large windows and whitewashed walls. The library shelving was built and installed by inmates at the Charleston Correctional Facility, and there is lots of space for the library’s collection to grow.

A woodworking shop in Clinton restored the library’s original sign from 1951 and is working on building a desk for the office. Tables and chairs in the new children’s section were donated by the New Vineyard Library, and the circulation desk came from the Damariscotta Library.

In addition to being a new home for the town’s current collection of books and DVDs, the library is also part of the Langlais Art Trail, a collection of more than 3,200 works of art by Maine sculptor Bernard Langlais that are scattered in more than 50 locations throughout Maine. The collection includes the recently restored 62-foot-tall Skowhegan Indian just a few miles down the road in Skowhegan, and 10 sculptures and paintings that will be on display at the library.

There is a children’s room, an office and two bathrooms, all of which contribute to the larger space that will allow the library to offer expanded programming, Soll said. On Saturday there was a lecture on skunks and a children’s program on dinosaurs put on by the L.C. Bates Museum in Hinckley.

“There’s just no comparison. It was very congested in the old library, and the floors were all rickety,” said Judy Bowzer, a Skowhegan resident who lives close to the Canaan line and uses the Canaan library.

On Saturday, Bowzer and her husband, Jeffrey Bowzer, were dressed in costumes to celebrate the opening. He was dressed as the Mad Hatter from the book “Alice in Wonderland,” and she was dressed in head-to-toe lilac as a character she dreamed up called Lady Lavender.

“It really is beautiful. This facility is long overdue,” Jeffrey Bowzer said.

In the midst of Saturday’s celebration, 75-year-old Ed DeRaps, a Canaan resident, was perusing the shelves of books. “It’s just wonderful to the nth degree,” he said. “It’s a happy place to be and a welcome addition to the village.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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