A guest looks over a display of notable books from the past 100 years at Prince Memorial Library’s centennial celebration Jan. 7. Contributed / Emily Gray

More than 300 Cumberland and North Yarmouth community members turned out last weekend to wish Prince Memorial Library a happy 100th anniversary.

The library celebrated is centennial with a party Jan. 7 that included an art exhibit and live music. It expected about 200 guests, so the extra 100 or so made the event “an enormous success,” said Kelly Greenlee, the library’s community outreach director.

Prince Memorial Library Director Thomas Bennett, left, Rep. Anne Graham, Sen. Teresa Pierce and Rep. Steve Moriarty show off the library’s official 100th anniversary recognition from the state. Contributed / Amelia Greenlee

“We are so touched by the outpouring of support and love from so many people in our community,” Greenlee said.

Library Director Thomas Bennett said it was great to see not only regular patrons at the party, but some new faces as well celebrating the library.

“The library is a symbol of two communities committing financially to support an institution of learning and recreation,” Bennett said.

Before Prince Memorial Library opened in 1923, residents could make use of the Cumberland Library, which was founded by the pastor of Cumberland Congregational Church in the 1890s. Library books were kept at volunteer librarians’ houses and patrons would visit the houses in order to borrow a book.


Portland residents Carroll D. and Annie Lincoln Prince, who died in 1920, left a bequest of $35,000 to construct a public library in Carroll’s hometown of Cumberland. Construction of the library began in 1922 and Prince Memorial opened its doors on Jan. 7, 1923.

“That bequest really made all the difference,” Bennett said.

Judy Gagnon of the Cumberland Historical Society, and Connie Sweetser, enjoying the festivities at the library Saturday. Contributed / Amelia Greenlee

The event Saturday was “a celebration of all the advancements that we’ve had,” Greenlee said.

The library has been expanded three times. In 1959, the Merrill Addition was built as a gift from Paul E. Merrill in memory of his parents; his mother had served as an interim librarian and was chairperson of the library’s book committee for 35 years. In 1987, the 8,100-square-foot Cumberland Wing was completed, and in 1996, a $35,000 anonymous donation allowed the Young Adult Room to be added to the library.

About four years ago, a plan to expand the library campus was proposed. The Cumberland Historical Society would be moved to the campus and be connected to the library. A 200-person meeting hall, an expanded children’s library space and more general community space would be added to create a community center.

Cumberland and North Yarmouth residents line up for refreshments at Saturday’s party. Contributed / Amelia Greenlee

The Historical Society building was moved to the Prince Memorial Library campus in 2019, but the other plans were put on hold because of the pandemic. The library advisory board is working to restart fundraising efforts.

“We’re hoping to restart the whole expansion project pretty soon,” Bennett said.

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