A portion of the eaves at Dyer Library in Saco is exposed to the weather after years of Maine winters and animal damage has taken a toll. Library officials are appealing to the public for financial help to make the repairs. Courtesy Photo by Leslie Rounds

SACO — The Dyer Library is situated in an 1869 Italianate mansion, the former home of the Deering family.  At the time it was built, said library Executive Director Leslie Rounds, it was the most highly taxed dwelling in Saco.

As anyone who has lived in an old house or worked from a period building knows, upkeep can be frequent, and costly.

That is why Rounds and the Board of Trustees are appealing to the community to help them fix a problem that could result in additional damage if left unattended.

“We are faced with another big project and few resources to accomplish it,” said Rounds in a letter to users of the Dyer Library and Saco Museum. “This spring, the crown molding and lovely dentil cornice began ripping away from the south end of our historic library building. It turned out that it was the original molding, installed on the former Deering mansion in the year it was built, 1869.”

Destruction of the molding appears to have been caused by a combination of animal damage and 150 years of Maine winters and because of it, the eaves are open to the weather, she said.

Damage to the cornice and dentil molding at Dyer Library in Saco is leaving a gap – and exposing the eaves to the weather. Library officials are appealing to library users and the public to help them finance repairs. Courtesy Photo by Linsey Pilon

“What we don’t want happen is have ice and water come in under the eaves,” said Linsey Pilon, president of the Board of Trustees.”The building is a treasure.”

The board has hired a restoration company, but Rounds said, the budget doesn’t provide for capital improvements.

“We’re constantly chasing projects,” she said. While the city of Saco provides generous support for operational expenses, augmented by fundraising campaigns, sometimes, when building problems arise, the funds just aren’t there.

Rounds and Pilon noted there have been generous public  contributions to various projects over the years. The replacement of the slate roof was funded by a combination of a substantial gift from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and local contributions. After a burglary at the library last year, people came through to help with repairs. Other fundraising endeavors paid for installation of a geothermal heating system, which saved thousands of dollars on heating oil, Rounds said. And there will be other needs too, in the future, she added.

”We’re really grateful; people see this place and recognize its value and when things like this happen, they really rise to the occasion,” said Rounds. “It makes me proud.”

For this latest project, “we hope that we can offset some of the expense with donations,” said Rounds.

Repairs are expected to start soon, with a view to completion before winter sets in.

Dyer Library is at 371 Main St. in Saco.

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