Kennedy Park's aging gazebo on council's agenda

LEWISTON — Restoring the historic gazebo in Kennedy Park might be too expensive for the city to do on its own, according to city officials.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Lewiston City Council is scheduled to debate the fate of the gazebo in Kennedy Park at Tuesday's meeting.

City councilors are scheduled to discuss three options for the gazebo at a workshop Tuesday. They could choose to restore the gazebo and former bandstand to its original condition, simply repair the damage or remove the structure entirely, according to Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau.

"The longer we wait, the more problematic restoration becomes," Nadeau said. "But beyond that, the longer you wait, it just becomes a safety hazard to leave it up and not do anything. You don't want to have this structure which is potentially going to be faced with sheer collapse."

Returning the gazebo to its original condition could cost more than $150,000.

"Restoration is inherently expensive because of all the the things you have to do," Nadeau said.

He said he's looking for members of the community to take the lead on fundraising, if that's what the council decides.

"Staff doesn't have the time to pull together a community project," Nadeau said. "We're a much smaller organization now and the effort has got to be led by someone in the community if they want to raise that kind of money."

According to a history of the gazebo written by local historian Douglas Hodgkin, the first bandstand was built in the park in 1868. Since then, it's been used for concerts and band performances as well as political rallies for local, Maine and national candidates. It was the site of a November 1960 rally featuring U.S. Sen. John  F. Kennedy just before he won the presidential election. The park surrounding the gazebo was named in his honor shortly after his 1963 assassination.

Most recently, Howard Dean, then chairman of the national Democratic Party, spoke from the gazebo at a 2008 pre-election rally.

The current gazebo was originally built in 1925 and given some minor repairs in 1973 but has been closed and blocked off since March 2010 due to safety concerns.

Getting it back in its original shape would mean replacing the concrete floor with wood as well as making structural changes.

"And while you're restoring it to historical accuracy, you need to bring it up to modern standards, too," Nadeau said. "The thing is 5 feet high, so it's not (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. You need to either build 120 feet of ramp or put in some kind of small elevator to make sure."

It would be less expensive to forgo historical renovations and simply build a new structure. The domed roof is still in relatively good shape and could be moved to a new structure, built at ground level.

"You might be able to use the gazebo, but you'd certainly be using it differently," he said. "You wouldn't have to worry about all of the preservation work or salvaging the parts that don't work."

The third, and least expensive alternative, would be to salvage the roof and remove the rest.

"You'd have a clean site, then determine at a later date if you want another structure," Nadeau said.

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Nick Gagnon's picture

I find it hard to believe it

I find it hard to believe it would cost more to reconstruct the gazebo than it cost for materials to build two homes. As far as the Americans with Disabilities act, not to offend anyone because people with disabilities deserve respect, but it is a historic structure and should be grandfathered so not to cost more and ruin the look of it by adding some goddy looking ramp or elavator to it. Im sure people with disabilities would understand and probably would never even had been brought up if not mentioned in the article.

Louise Valdes-Fauli's picture

Kennedy Park Gezebo

I grew up in Lewiston, and remember as a "tween," not only shaking JFK's hand, but also the Republican Vice Presidential candidate's as well(Henry Cabot Lodge). The Kennedy event was in the evening, with lights, music and hoopla. The Cabot Lodge event was held at lunchtime and was much lower key. As an 8th grade student at the Wallace School (St. Patrick's) across the street, I had a modicum of lunchtime freedom, and went to the Lodge event. I looked at the park bandstand (it was called the "Bandstand," never "The Gazebo") from four different classrooms over the years, and always imagined that Alexander's Ragtime Band had once played there.

Much has changed in Lewiston since those days; the demise of St. Patrick's Church not being the least.

Although I would be classified as the "older generation," since I am over 60, I would hope that there are many people in Lewiston, as well as LHS alumni not living in Lewiston or the surrounding area (my case), who would be willing to assist in the restoration of one of Lewiston's most visible landmarks. I would also hope that it would be possible to use the restored bandstand for community concerts, musical and other cultural events.

I would be interested in helping.

Louise Saucier Valdes-Fauli

 's picture


I can recall seeing JFK speaking on the city park Gazebo. It was a cold night in November and Kennedy was very late arriving (4 hours or so). My brother and I were hanging around the Lisbon and Chestnut corner with my Dad. Despite the cold, the air was electric with anticipation.

There were thousands of people in the park.

I can recall thinking how red JFK's hair was under the spotlights.

Meanwhile, out in Chicago, the dead were rising from their graves to vote...for a fee, of course.

The next day, Henry Cabot Lodge appeared on the Gazebo. There were about 50 people there. Talk about a waste of av gas to fly him up to Democrat laden Lewiston.

I missed LBJ's visit.

The Gazebo represents a Lewiston long since faded away in mists of history. The street names are the same, but instead of being the "Industrial Heart of Maine", it is a service center community, whatever the heck that is.

 's picture

save the gazebo

save the gazebo

 's picture


It is time for it to go.....

Lauren  Landry's picture

I agree with Dan in the sense

I agree with Dan in the sense that it's sad the city has let the gazebo go this long without some sort of restoration. Had they been properly keeping up with the project, the damage wouldn't be at such an alarming price now. I feel like, slowly but surely, Lewiston/Auburn is losing all of its historical value, and that historical value is one of the major characteristics, if not the biggest, that sets it apart from every other community in the state. You wonder why people call Lewiston "The Dirty Lew?" Take a look at the top of that gazebo.

Jim Cyr's picture

How about all those

in prison, half way house, on the dole, those committed to community service, OJT for those in the technical school trades. etc.......?


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