HALLOWELL — The Hubbard Free Library celebrated the completion of the first phase of a capital campaign Sunday, an effort that took seven years and brought a new slate roof, two new boilers and repairs to the concrete exterior of the 134-year-old building.

After raising around $450,000 for the first phase, the nonprofit organization is looking to raise up to $150,000 to pay for new exterior windows to cover the original stained glass windows, according to Linda Gilson, treasurer for the library’s board of trustees.

The new exterior windows will allow people to see stained glass better because the old plastic glass covering the outside of the windows gets cloudy, Gilson said.

The organization launched the previous campaign in 2007, just before the Great Recession. Board President Mary Lou Dyer said she expects the next campaign to be completed in three years, and Gilson said it could be sooner with large corporate donations or grants.

“It was a tough, tough time to start it. That was difficult,” Gilson said.

The phase one campaign raised the $450,000 through a combination of annual fundraising and donations from businesses and community members, she said. It kicked off with a $50,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Gilson said.


The fundraising was on top of the library’s annual operating budget of around $130,00, she said

The building, built in 1880, is the oldest library building in Maine still serving its original purpose, according to Gilson. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

“The library has been the cornerstone of the historical district in Hallowell since the early ’70s when it was listed in the Registry,” Gilson said.

The repointing and the chemical cleaning of the granite exterior completed over the summer was the first time work was done in the building’s history, she said. The library organization has set money aside from the first capital campaign to make the bathroom handicap accessible and to repair the handicap entrance in the back of the building, Gilson said.

At the celebration Sunday at the library, people could take pieces of the old slate roof that had been etched with a picture of the library.

Dyer, the president of the board of trustees, said the library has seen a huge amount of community support for the project.


“We’re very excited,” she said.

Dyer said the new director of the library hired this year, Mark Blythe, has been bringing more outside groups to the library. The Row House, a local historical group, recently met at the library for its annual meeting, Dyer said.

The library has been focusing on being a community center and resource, she said.

Gerry Mahoney, 73, a Hallowell resident who attended Sunday’s celebrations, said he enjoys the library’s collections because of his interest in history. He wrote a book about a self-improvement society formed in Hallowell in the early 1800s by young apprentices of local printers after seeing papers from the group at the library, he said.

“I just think it’s a terrific institution,” Mahoney said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663


Twitter: @paul_koenig

Comments are no longer available on this story