Lithgow library contractors, ‘right on schedule,’ take down 1970s addition

It’s a key step in the library’s $11 million expansion, which is expected to open late next year.

Source: centralmaine.com

Photo Credits: Staff Photos by Joe Phelan, centralmaine.com

 

AUGUSTA — Contractors demolished the 1979 addition on the back of the Lithgow Public Library on Monday, reaching a key step in the building’s $11 million expansion.

Last year, Augusta voters approved a plan to borrow $8 million without raising taxes to nearly triple the Winthrop Street library’s size, a project to be matched by $3 million in private funding and expected to be finished in November 2016. Work began in May, and Dan Anctil, the senior superintendent for J.F. Scott Construction, the Winthrop company overseeing the project, said crews are “right on schedule.”

The gray addition on the back side of the building was criticized for not matching the original, 119-year-old Romanesque-Renaissance-style library. Contractors will keep the original building and replace the addition with a larger one that better matches the library, adding an accessible elevator, electric door and a cafe on the main floor while expanding a parking lot behind the library.

It has been long-awaited. Anctil said library staffers were hoping to get pictures of the demolition of the addition, but it came down quicker than expected, so he had to get some for them.

“Within a few hours, it was sitting in a pile,” he said.

Anctil said contractors are awaiting a building permit before starting the new addition’s foundation, which could begin within two weeks. Until the project is finished, the library is being housed on Augusta’s east side at the Ballard Center on East Chestnut Street, where Sarah Schultz-Nielsen, the library’s assistant director, said patrons have enjoyed the new layout.

She said some have even advocated staying there for good, but she has told them to wait for the new building. When she first saw Lithgow without the addition on Monday, she said she was “dumbfounded.”

“It’s cool,” Schultz-Nielsen said. “It’s really neat to see what the building looked like when it was originally constructed.”

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Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

mshepherd@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme