For years I have heard about the underground library in Camden, Maine.
This year I was able to go and visit that library and just loved
everything about it.
The residents of Camden voted in 1896 to form a free public library. It
took many years to raise the funds for this construction. The land was
donated by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. The land sits at the end of what
is now a very busy town center on a plot of land that over looks a
beautiful harbor. The library is a Colonial Revival building. The
corner stone of the building was laid in August of 1927 and the doors to
the library opened ten months later on June 11, 1928. You can see the
original building in the above picture.
The grounds of the library were designed as an ampitheater and
constructed between 1928 and 1931. Fletcher Steele was the architect and
this is considered to be one of his best works. The two acre park
across the street is known as Harbor Park and was designed by the
Olmsted Brothers between 1928 and 1935. It is very informal compared to
the structured design of the ampitheater across the street. The same
donor gave the land for Harbor Park.
Now it is the late 90’s and the library needs to expand. But where to do
it. Do you destroy the ampitheater, move to another spot,or seek other
options? Other options was the answer. So the library went
underground. Under the South lawn was the option. In 1996 the expansion
of the library was completed. A whole new wing – The Centennial Wing –
provided more room for larger collections and computer based
People enter the library through a large set of glass doors. (as seen
in the first picture) You come into a rotunda shaped area that features
the check out desk and information area. The computer area is light
and bright. There are many seating areas throughout the room. The
original library which is easily accessed by an elevator or a flight of
stairs is still being used. The first floor of the building is used by
the Historical Society. The second floor of the original building is
the library reading room.
When we were there , the meeting room was being used as a gallery to
showcase some of the quilted wall hangings of Linda Shepard. You can
see her lunar moth hanging below: www.linda-shepard.com
For more information: www.librarycamden.org