Millinocket library will move to former restaurant during its $1.5M renovation
May 28, 2019
The Millinocket Memorial Library will begin Phase I of its $1.5 million renovation next week, ushering in a new era for the library that celebrates its centennial this year.
The library plans to close May 31 and move for six to eight months into a for-sale downtown building that for a time was home to a restaurant owned by the Pelletier family of the "American Loggers" TV show. The opening at 57 Penobscot Ave. is scheduled for June 10.
Nickerson & O'Day, of Brewer, is construction manager for the library renovation, which will reshape the 1963 building into a "library of the future." The firm also built the 56-year-old Maine Avenue library building.
The Phase I design is by architects ARCADIA designworks of Portland. Principals in the firm are also opening a second office in Millinocket.
The library renovation is funded by a capital campaign and a $500,000 grant from the New Generation Foundation, half of which was outright grant, and half of which was a dollar-for-dollar matching grant.
The library renovation, which will add a new entrance to the building, add teen space, move the children's section from the basement and more. It will also turn the building into a flexible," future-proof" one that will serve a wide variety of functions for our community, the library's website says.
The renovation has been split into two phases because of escalating construction costs. The second phase may involve an addition and second entrance. Arcadia designworks' principal architect Patric Santerre is a Millinocket native. He and his partner Celeste Bard have bought a mixed-used building on Balsam Drive in Millinocket where they intend to have a second office. The building has eight units, and they plan on leasing out office and retail space.
The firm also designed the Millinocket pool and bath house, a 2008 project that won praise from the American Institute of Architects. Bard told Mainebiz this morning that the firm is doing more work in the region, and want to be part of the positive change going on.
"We really love the area," she said.
The library renovation project is a long way from where the library was in 2015, when the town cut its budget and the library had to close. It re-opened in three months after an aggressive campaign by volunteers, led by Friends of the Library, that raised $30,000.
Library's mission: Enrich lives, build community
Librarian Matt DeLaney was hired in 2017 and he's introduced several innovative projects since then, including a bicycle and equipment rental program, Gear Hub. The library also has two wifi hotspots — it’s one of five libraries in the country to receive a $15,000 grant to pilot new technology that uses TV white space spectrum to expand broadband access beyond its walls, DeLaney told Mainebiz in March.
He said that the Gear Hub program and the wifi are ways for the library to be part of downtown's growth while also enriching the community.
“When communities fall on hard times, that's when libraries become most important,” he told Mainebiz last year. “It's the mission of a library to enrich lives, empower, inspire and build the community.”
The town's library was established in 1919, in a building on Penobscot Avenue, and the campaign to build the new library on Maine Avenue, a few blocks from downtown, took almost a decade.
The 4,000-square-foot soon-to-be temporary library building was built in 1900 and renovated in 2010 at the height of the popularity of the "American Loggers" reality TV show, which featured the Pelletier family and their business, Pelletier Bros. Inc., a logging, trucking and manufacturing company. The show had a three-season run and the restaurant closed in 2015.
A used book and wine bar located in the space for about a year, but closed last year.
The building, still owned by the Pelletiers, is listed for $450,000 and will remain for sale while the library makes its temporary home there. All the library's functions will move there, including the Gear Hub bicycle rental program, which is in a storefront down the street on Penobscot Avenue.