Skowhegan Public Library

Skowhegan Free Public Library
Elm St.
Skowhegan Maine

Since its construction in 1889, the outside appearance of the lovely red brick library building on Elm Street has remained virtually unchanged. Composed of an interesting combination

of octagonal towers and gables, it looks out upon the Kennebec River. Above the entrance is an inscribed panel flanked by an urn and open book, signifying the library as a container of knowledge. On the upper left front is a semi-circle section of terra cotta blocks which contain the badges and shields of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Army Corps, and various veterans organizations. The building is included in the National Register of Historic Building
Former governor of Maine and leading Skowhegan citizen, Abner Coburn provided the funds for this buildings. At the time
of his death in 1885, a sum of $30,000 was placed in the hands of the Bloomfield Academy Trustees to be appropriated at their discretion in founding a Free Public Library in the Town of Skowhegan. The Trustees decided on a central location for the new building near the town center, railroad station and court house, and directly across the street from the Somerset Hospital (no longer in existence). They chose E. E. Lewis from Gardiner as architect for the project. The new building was officially opened in May 1890.

At the time of construction, the town of Skowhegan voted to contribute funds for a Memorial Room in the library to honor soldiers of past wars. This is now the main reading room of the library, and a black marble tablet listing the names of Civil War soldiers is mounted over the fireplace. In addition, a stained and leaded glass window of a full length portrayal of Columbia and her billowing flag is a focal point at the front of the room.
Many other outstanding features can be found throughout the building, including four unusual tile fireplaces with decorative hearths. Also, especially beautiful is the inside woodwork of carved antique oak found in all the rooms.
Another interesting feature is the Seal of the State of Maine surrounded by leaded glass gems in the fanlight over the main entrance. A spiral staircase in the front octagonal tower leads to

the bright and sunny upstairs of the library. Originally, this space was devoted to pleasant parlors where women's clubs held their meetings for many years. On April 20, 1943, however, this area was opened as the Children's Rooms as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. William Hinman in memory of their daughter Jane. It now serves as the space for many fun and exciting programs as well as the source for both adventurous and educational reading and learning for young patrons.
Today the library, still managed by the Bloomfield Academy Trustees,
maintains a fine collection of fiction, nonfiction, reference books and genealogical material. It continues as a center for both recreational and informative reading for all citizens of Skowhegan. In recent years, computers have been added for the use of both patrons and visitors to town. Programs, exhibits and lectures fill the calendar throughout the year. An efficient and friendly staff, assisted by volunteers, welcomes visitors to the library six days each week. In addition, an active Friends group helps in fund raising and special events.

Due to the generosity and foresight of Governor Coburn, Skowhegan citizens have a Library building of which to be truly proud.

For more information:Skowhegan Free Public Library
Written by Corrilla Hastings