2017-01-26 / Front Page

Graves Library expansion under way

Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — A $1 million expansion and renovation project to Louis T. Graves Memorial Library is under way.

Work kicked off Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony, said Library Director Mary-Lou Boucouvalas, and the project is expected to be completed in September.

“They’re hammering as we speak,” she said Wednesday morning during a telephone interview.

Earlier this winter, the Perkins House, the building that sat behind the library and was used primarily for book sales, was torn down.

The library, at 18 Maine St., was built in 1813 as a bank. The project will make some renovations to the library, such as the replacement of a heating system, and adding a 4,500-square-foot wing that will be compatable to the existing building.

“We recognize that the library is a signature structure in the towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport,”said George Emery, board of trustees member and campaign chairman in a statement last year. “As a result, we have worked closely with architects who specialize in historic structures to ensure that we preserve the character of this classic building while providing Library users with an expanded and fully updated facility.”

Called the Mother’s Wing in honor of all mothers who have used the library to encourage their children to read, the wing under construction will include a large room for public events such as lectures and movies and use by community organizations and a larger computer area where Boucouvalas said she hopes to have a program where high school volunteers can provide assistance to seniors.

“It’s really about the community,” she said.

Another improvement will be the addition on an elevator. Boucouvalas said there is currently a chair lift on the stairs of the building, but those who use specialized wheel chairs are not able to use it.

She said it’s always sad when there’s a class trip to the library and one student has to stay downstairs while their classmates are upstairs.

A fundraising campaign to raise the $1 million for the project began in June and the 70 percent of the money has been raised so far, said Boucouvalas.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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