WEST PARIS — Work to expand the ramparts of a small, castle-like library on Main Street is under way, and volunteers and staff hope the project will be completed in December.

The West Paris Public Library, or Arthur L. Mann Memorial Library, was built in 1926 by Lewis Mann, a member of a local woodworking family. Mann dedicated the library to the memory of his son, who died at a young age. The town acquired the property in 1971.

An addition of 1,800 square feet at the rear of the building will include a children’s area, arts and crafts section, conference room, and handicap-accessible entrance. Currently, the library only has a total of 900 square feet.

“We just tore the back part of the building off two weeks ago, and it came off very hard,” said Ted Jones, chairman of the library’s building committee. “He built one great building. He really did. And it’s as sound as can be.”

Jones said the proposal for an addition first came up in the mid-1990s. The limited space at the building was presenting problems, and there was not much room for children’s activities except in the basement. Librarian Patricia Makley said the addition will allow dedicated spaces for both children and young adults.

Les Pulsifer, the library treasurer, said fundraising for the project began in 2006. One of the major factors contributing to the addition, however, was a donation of land. Jones said John LaGasse of Medical Care Development donated the 1.3 acres needed for the expansion.

“His contribution is really what made the addition possible,” Jones said.

Pulsifer said $295,000 is available to go toward the addition. Of that amount, $140,000 was taken from a reserve account. A total of $80,000 has comes from grants, including a $50,000 contribution from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.

The remaining funds were raised through donations. Pulsifer cited the Penley and Perham families for generous contributions, as well as $400 raised through a penny drive by first-graders at the Agnes Gray Elementary School.

“The townspeople have been most generous in making this thing happen,” Pulsifer said.

Pulsifer said the library still needs $30,000 for the project. In one fundraising effort, the library is selling pillows donated by Maine Balsam Fir Products. Makley said the library is also giving out pledge cans and asking people to donate a certain amount per day, and enrolled with a program at OurGVMall.com allowing a percentage of online purchases at certain sites to go toward the library.

The library hired Reed and Co. Architecture of Portland to design the addition and Wright Ryan Construction of Portland as the project manager. Jones said 75 to 80 percent of the contractors working on the addition are local.

A section of the rear wall of the original building has been removed, and a temporary wall has been put up. The library will remain open during construction.

Pulsifer said the addition is expected to be complete by Dec. 10. He said the date should correspond with an annual fundraiser where the library is outlined in Christmas lights.

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Forms have been placed and a rear wall removed as part of the addition of 1,800 square feet to the the West Paris Public Library. The project is expected to be finished by Dec. 10.


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