This floor plan study shows one potential configuration of how Prince Memorial Library could be expanded. The Cumberland library could double in size on its western side, with the Cumberland Historical Society building relocated and connected to the southwest. Main Street runs to the east.

CUMBERLAND — Relocation of a 166-year-old former school that houses the town Historical Society, which officials last month feared might not be feasible, is set to take place this fall.

Increased cost estimates for moving the 4 Blanchard Road building 0.2 miles to the 266 Main St. site of Prince Memorial Library, and the potentially precarious condition of the 1853 former schoolhouse, led the town to postpone a July 29 public discussion on the project until more information was available.

Town Manager Bill Shane estimated the project could cost $100,000 to $150,000, not including a potential $100,000 in repairs to the structure, after consulting one building relocation company. But the town got better news after an analysis by Merry Building Movers of Scarborough, which Shane said moved the New Sharon Public Library to the Farmington Fairgrounds, and which had experience with old masonry buildings.

The Scarborough company “felt it could be moved, and a lot more economically than originally thought,” Shane said.

The cost will be only $40,000, or less than the $50,000 the town had reserved for the project. The town also expectes to hire a structural engineer for the foundation work that will take place at the approximately 1,400-square-foot structure’s new home, about 100 feet to the rear of the library.

Merry may need a month preparing the building for the move, which could occur in late October or early November, Shane said. The structure will be then be set on a new foundation topped by a concrete-supported slab.

“We don’t anticipate keeping the floor, because it’s in pretty tough shape,” he said.

Utility wires on Main Street may also have to be moved to allow the relocation.

Work in the coming years, which will involve fundraising, include roof and other repairs, as well as a rear expansion of the nearly 10,000-square-foot library that would double its size and connect to its new neighbor, and add about 30 parking spaces.

The total expense of that work, which has yet to be determined, will also be offset by the town’s approximately $85,000 sale of the soon-to-be-vacant Blanchard Road property to abutter Sevee & Maher Engineers, which operates out of the old Town Hall. The sale is due to occur by the end of the year.

The fundraising campaign could be bolstered by Cumberland’s bicentennial in 2021, with a focus on the library and society as the town’s cultural center, Shane noted.

The Town Council in February authorized forming a committee to explore moving the society building to the library property. The panel on June 3 unanimously accepted a $14,500 design services proposal from Scott Simons Architects of Portland. The funds come from reserves set aside for that purpose.

The society is now packing its town artifacts, which Shane expects to get much greater exposure once the move has occurred and the organization is open during the library’s hours. A future hallway between the two buildings should provide ample space for wall displays about Cumberland’s history.

“It’s really going to be special,” Shane said. “… I think it’s going to be something that many, many people in town will be using forever.”

Austin Smith and Kayla Caron, architects with Scott Simons, are due to give a presentation on the project at the council’s Aug. 26 meeting.


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