Bicentennial grant awarded to library

Gardiner Public Library circa 1940


Contact: Anne Davis 582-6893, or Dennis Doiron, 624-1388


The Gardiner Library Association and the Gardiner Public Library are pleased to announce the award of a $3,500 grant from the Maine Bicentennial Commission. Along with a $3,500 matching contribution from the Association and the Public Library, which serves the towns of Gardiner, West Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph, Farmingdale and Litchfield. The funds will be used to compile an inventory of the built environment in 1820 in the six towns, with a particular focus on residential, farm, commercial, religious, and public buildings that exist today. The project will also identify buildings from that period that no longer exist but for which there are available photographs, drawings, paintings, or textual descriptions. An estimated 50-75 properties are expected to be included in the inventory. In addition, to the extent possible, the project will inventory roads, cemeteries, dams, and other built structures. 


The project will be undertaken by volunteers, including area high school students, under the direction of Library Director Anne Davis and Archivist Dawn Thistle. “We are working with the MSAD#11 curriculum coordinator so that we may cultivate student volunteers to go out into their communities, identify old buildings and bringing pictures and documents back to the library's archive room to validate their hypotheses with the help of our professional archivist,” said Anne Davis. “Our great hope is to create an interest in local history and social history with the next generation of leaders.”


Anyone, student or non-student, wishing to work on the project is invited to contact Anne Davis at the library.   "There is an immediate need to simply identify those structures built on or before 1820," said Tom Farkas. "Already, we have identified about 40 structures, but we are sure there are others out there that are unknown to us. Anyone who has knowledge of such buildings please let us know."


The inventory will be shared with the public in several ways. After information is collected and summarized on a specific property, it will be included on the Library's website page that is dedicated to this project. The web site may also contain posts about the history of area in 1820.


In addition, displays will be made and exhibited in the library and other locations throughout the six towns, including in schools and historical societies. These displays will be updated as more properties are added to the inventory. The final product will be the completed inventory in a physical volume that will be copied for distribution to each of the six participating towns and their historical committees or, in the case of Gardiner, its library.


“I am particularly excited about this project,” Gardiner Library Association President Tom Farkas of Pittston, “as the project will be an opportunity to further develop volunteer and institutional capacity in all six towns in the area of historical research and public education. It also it is appealing to me that library and the school system are working together to provide research and writing opportunities with students at the high school.”