The 1913 Boscawen Library (Seven to Save 2013) is making headway towards this landmark’s re-use thanks to the focus and tenaciousness of members of the Committee to Save the Old Boscawen Library. The Preservation Alliance has been pleased to help local leaders with recognition and coaching over the last few years.
Designed by famed Boston architect Guy Lowell, who also designed Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the NH Historical Society’s building, this 1913 Colonial Revival building was the first public library in Boscawen. Frank Lawrence Gerrish donated land at the junction of Routes 3 and 4, and John and Charlotte Kimball and Benjamin Ames Kimball donated the money to build the library. The elegant classical revival exterior is complemented by an open floor plan, dark wood paneling, and a beautiful engraved and inscribed wooden mantel over the main fireplace.
Listed to the National Register in 1981, it was closed in 2006 when the Town moved its library resources to a new Municipal Complex, an adaptive reuse of the Old Main Street School building. A leaking roof and foundation drainage issues led to moisture-related damage and an uncertain future.
Committee to Save the Old Boscawen Library is making progress with a phased plan to save and restore the building as a multi-use facility. The first steps were roof repair, improvements to drainage, and exterior work to make the building safe and ready for interior repairs and improvements with help from an LCHIP grant and private donations. The Town has agreed to provide a basic maintenance budget to keep the building heated and lights on along with matching funds for money raised by the Committee. The basement is being renovated to provide some moisture-free space for storing nonprofit documents, and some additional work is out to bid.
Possible future uses include storage of historical records and Historical Society displays, space for local artists’ demonstrations, or lease to a business.
Additional thoughts regarding ways that the Committee has expanded public awareness and engaged the Town from Committee member Lorrie Carey:
· I think our "Seven to Save" designation has really helped raise community awareness.
· We made the 1913 library's birthday a part of the Old Home Day celebration.
· We had elementary kids making homemade hearts for Valentine's Day to show how much they love their library.
· There must be plenty of room for numerous volunteers to float ideas and feel engaged.
“It is one thing to save a historic resource,” said Carey. “It is another to maintain the building for future generations to use. Both the current and future condition of the building must be considered as the plans to save a historic resource come together.”