Thursday, December 12, 2013
The South Windham Public Library building could return to the town where it first was built.
Originally a hose house for the South Windham fire station, the building was moved over the Presumpscot River into Gorham in 1934, when the owner of a nearby general store decided to turn it into a library.
Funded by the towns of Windham and Gorham, the library closed in July due to a lack of patronage. Its head librarian, who owns the land where the building sits, ordered it removed by Sept. 8.
The town of Gorham planned to demolish it if no one came forward with a viable alternate plan before the Town Council's September meeting, which is on Tuesday, said Town Manager David Cole.
But, last week, someone did.
The Windham Historical Society has proposed moving the building to farmland it bought in Windham Center where it plans to replicate an old village around a green.
The society has asked the town of Gorham for the money it would have spent on demolishing the building in order to pay for moving it to Windham Center Road and building a foundation.
The Gorham Town Council will decide at the 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday whether to donate the estimated $3,000 demolition cost.
Allene Bowler, a trustee of the library, said she had assumed the building would be wrecked. "That's the best news I've heard," she said Thursday upon learning about the historical society's proposal.
David Tanguay, vice president of the Windham Historical Society, said the plan is still "in the exploratory phase."
"We're kind of running around trying to figure out what our options are," he said.
The proposal is for the gold building with green shutters to become part of its Living History Center, along with a post-and-beam barn, corner grocery store and other buildings.
There's already a library on the land, said Tanguay. The historical society does not know how the South Windham library building might be used.
But taking on the building fits with the group's mission, he said, "given its history and our desire to save what we can."
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at