Project information

  • Renovation 8,000 sf

  • New construction 11,740 sf

  • Office addition 5,600 sf; sallyport addition 900 sf

  • Construction cost $2.5M

  • Completed 2003


2003 Statewide Historic Preservation Award

Gorham, ME


The sunken garden gives daylight and a green view to the children’s area on the lower level.

Natural light floods the reading room through tall windows and skylights.

The historic reading room received a light-touch restoration that retained the original furnishings.

The historic library faces the historic street, which has very little parking; the new addition faces the rear municipal parking lot.

The new addition is a simple open box that sets off the delicate shape and small spaces of the historic library.

The lower level has low ceilings, so every effort was made to pull daylight into the south side of the building.

Baxter Memorial Library was given to the town in 1908 by former Portland Mayor James Phinney Baxter. Designed by Otis E. Moulton, the Georgian/ Colonial Revival pink granite building has black granite quoins and banding with yellow-painted wood columns and trim.

Exterior features of the addition, including window configurations, color choices, and roofing materials, were adapted from the original building. A light court allows two full-height sunlit stories and reverses traditional landscaping, so that library visitors see a succession of terraced plantings from inside the building.

And while the old library building fronts on the main street, the sheltered rotunda entrance opens off a new parking circle that also serves the municipal center and the historical society.

The designers’ aim was to keep the profile of the addition relatively modest, so as not to challenge the lines of the historic building. The restored reading room, with Baxter’s portrait over the fireplace, still has original red oak woodwork and furniture.

Where the old library’s spaces were compact, highly finished, and formally delineated, the addition is large, open, and flexible.

Photo credit: © Sandy Agrafiotis

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