Tuesday, December 10, 2013
WINDHAM — The town's historical society is moving forward with a plan to transplant the South Windham Public Library building from Gorham to its land on Windham Center Road.
In this July 11, 2012, photo, Ellen Bessey, daughter of former librarian Lorraine Jonassen, sets out the open sign for the last time before the closing of the South Windham Library due to lack of customers.
John Patriquin / Staff Photographer
The Gorham Town Council on Tuesday decided to allow the Windham Historical Society to take the building and donated $3,000 toward the move – what the town expected to pay to demolish the building.
The library, which closed in July due to a lack of patronage, sits on land owned by head librarian Lorraine Jonassen.
After she and her late husband bought the property next to the Presumpscot River in 1978, they sold the building to the town for $1 and said it could stay there as long as it remained a library.
When it closed, the town became responsible for removing it.
The town planned to demolish the building, unless someone came forward with an alternate plan for it, which the Windham Historical Society recently did.
The historical society wants to incorporate the library, which was originally a hose house for the South Windham fire station, into its planned living history center, called the Village Green.
The building moved across the river into Gorham in 1934, when the owner of a nearby general store decided to expand the library she had in the back of the store.
The library would be one of about a dozen buildings, including a barn and a blacksmith shop, surrounding a green with a gazebo, said Linda Griffin, president of the historical society.
There's already an old library on the site. Griffin said the South Windham library building might be used to display equipment from the town's first rescue squad.
Plans for the Village Green, which have been in the making for two years, still need the approval of the Windham Planning Board.
Griffin is hoping that happens by next month.
The Gorham Town Council gave the historical society until the end of October to move the building, with the possibility of an extension.
Griffin said the historical society is seeking estimates for moving the library and building a foundation, which she expects to cost about $10,000 in total, and then plans to try to raise money to cover the cost.