Skowhegan Free Public Library

Skowhegan, Maine

The Skowhegan Free Public Library, a National Register-listed property, was constructed in 1887.  Gardiner, Maine architect Edwin E. Lewis designed the Queen Anne style building overlooking the Kennebec River.  The interior consists of large reading and reference rooms and a two-story stack space in the rear. The second floor of the main section houses the children’s library. The building remains fundamentally as it was originally constructed:  original interior casework, shelving, furnishings and decorative fireplace mantels remain and are significant features of the historic building.

The Library Renovation Committee and Trustees began working with B+W in 2010 to address universal (ADA) accessibility, code improvements, and create more usable “found” space within the footprint of the existing building. B+W solved this difficult accessibility problem principally through the construction of a 5-stop elevator addition which will convey patrons to the multiple building levels.  Life safety improvements included a new egress stair addition and an interior stair to connect the second floor of the main section to the stack wing. Prior to this work there was no contiguous access. The project also included renovation of the currently unused basement for the library program expansion; the use of the basement required installation of a building-wide fire-suppression sprinkler system, which was sensitively integrated into the historic structure.

The overall cost projection for the full build-out was about $800,000 in 2011 dollars, a large sum for a small town library.  Barba + Wheelock developed detailed construction plans so that the project was totally integrated.  B+W’s strategic advice resulted in the Trustees selecting a local construction manager who works to phase the work as funding becomes available.  B+W also worked to identify funding sources for the Trustees.

Construction commenced in Fall 2011.  The phases undertaken to date include:

– Underground utility, waterproofing and drainage upgrades to improve the basement conditions (Completed)

–  Egress stair addition and basement fit-out (Completed)

–  Sprinkler system throughout and review with MHPC (Completed)

–  Stack wing rehabilitation and internal stair (Completed June 2016)

–  Elevator addition (Beginning July 2016)

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