HANOVER – Years of hard work by year-round and seasonal residents here paid off last month with the relocation of the tiny Gardner Roberts Memorial Library to a tree-canopied lot beside the town office on Ferry Road. Now, the Victorian-style building is getting a makeover inside and out.
“We’re really pleased with it,” said Clem Worcester, the town clerk and the first male member of the library’s board of trustees.
It’s been years of bottle drives, yard sales, personal contributions, a bicycle trip across the country, plus a substantial donation by Ray Taylor, a summer resident who donated $21,000 in honor of his late wife, Jane, who had been a avid supporter of the library. All told, at least $37,000 was raised in the past five years or so, Worcester said.
Among the contributors were Sarah Moir, a teenage summer resident, who devoted months to gathering returnable bottles and raised just over $1,000. Barbara and Irv Robinson, summer residents, bicycled from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans several years ago and raised $7,000. Descendants of Roberts donated $1,000 toward the cause, and year-round people donated cash and checks, some in memory of family and friends.
The 500-square-foot cream and cranberry-colored library was built on Howard Pond Road in 1884 by Roberts, a mill owner, businessman and builder in the town. It was used for a post office with a bit of space for a town library, and in 1894, it became exclusively a library.
The postage-stamp size lot provided no parking, electricity, heat or water. When light was needed, a kerosene lamp was used.
At its new home, patrons will be able to use the municipal bathrooms and electric service will be wired soon, Worcester said.
The 3,500 or so books that had lined the solid-wood shelves have been stored in the former fire station next to the old schoolhouse used as a town hall.
Many books are out of date, Worcester said, so the library committee has been working with Rumford Public Library Director Karl Aromaa to find ways to update the collection. Donations of recent books are also being sought.
When the library was established, Worcester said local women were operating it, so the trustees were all women. In fact, its bylaws dictated that only women serve on the board.
Last year, Worcester became the first man on the board, once the bylaws were changed, and soon after, Gordie Howe’s store owner, Chris Howe, became the second man on the board.
Work began on restoring and updating the building soon after it was relocated, with Rumford Point resident Jimmy Knight as general contractor.
Earlier this week, Gavin Broomhall and Derek Walker, employees of B and B Painting of Greenwood were clear-coating the interior wooden walls, sashes and bookcases. Plans are to paint the exterior a cream color with gray trim and the door red, Worcester said.
Walker really liked the old building.
“It’s a warm place and makes you feel like sitting down and reading a book,” he said as he painted urethane on the walls.
The hardwood floors will be sanded and stained, and a walkway paved from the town office parking lot to the library’s entrance.
Worcester said other plans are also in the works, such as a summer reading program next year and regular open hours, providing volunteers can be found.
A celebration to mark the move and to thank the donors has been scheduled for July 28. A granite stone to memorialize Jane Taylor is expected to be dedicated as well.
When Ray Taylor made the donation last year, he said his wife, an interior designer originally from Wisconsin, had a keen interest in the arts and literacy. Taylor, a Manhattan native, had been a mill manager for Boise Cascade, and the couple had maintained a summer home on Howard Pond for almost 30 years.
The dedication will include a band and other activities.