Town report honors couple who led library project
Lincolnville — In a ceremony at the home of Board of Selectmen Chairman Ladleah Dunn, the 2014 town report was dedicated to Jim and Cindy Dunham Friday, June 6.
The Dunhams retired in 2008 as directors of Camp Tanglewood where they had worked since its inception as a 4-H camp in 1982.
Their involvement in the Lincolnville Transition Initiative led to their founding in 2011 of the Lincolnville Community Alliance, a group dedicated to finding ways to bring people together, to learn new skills, and to maximize sustainable resources already present in town.
Moving the hulk of a one-room 1849 schoolhouse across the road onto a blighted plot of land and making it into the town's library turns out to have met all those goals, according to town officials.
During the winter of 2011-2012 the Lincolnville Historical Society bought the 875-square-foot former Center School building for a dollar from the Lincolnville Boat Club, then arranged to lease the land, formerly known as Dean & Eugley's, from the town, the dedication in the town report states. This land had been vacant for 10 years with a Maine Department of Environmental Protection covenant on it that had discouraged development. The town and DEP would subsequently help facilitate the project, making sure it met all requirements of minimal soil disturbance.
In the summer of 2012, under Jim's leadership, a group of men, retired and semi-retired, came together to figure out how to move the building. They worked for a couple of months shoring up the remaining two walls-and-a-roof, jacking it up off its foundation and then lowering it onto short lengths of pipe. A wooden track was built out to the road, and on the morning of Oct. 27, 2012, with the road closed to traffic, they quickly completed the track across Main Street. Some 200 townspeople showed up to pick up the rope attached to the building and, in about an hour, pulled the Center Schoolhouse across the road.
The Lincolnville Community Library and Open Air Museum has become a reality. In addition to the original crew of movers, some 25 volunteers, men and women, turned out three mornings a week, every week during the summer and fall of 2013, to rebuild the old building and to construct an open air museum for the Lincolnville Historical Society. As Jim oversaw the restoration of the building, and a crew of women built the sheds of the open air museum, Cindy organized, with a development committee, various fundraising events throughout the spring and summer, kept track of the budget, and oversaw grant-writing. As the keeper of the calendar, Cindy saw that the various committees -- library, landscaping, and development committees met regularly to make decisions about the work being done.
Not only did these two keep the complicated project -- restoration, new construction of an annex, sheds, and landscaping -- running smoothly, but both were hammering nails alongside the other volunteers throughout every work day. The original budget goal of the project -- $208,000 -- was met by grants, individual cash donations, and in-kind donations. These last, donations of skills such as wiring, plumbing, painting, carpentry, landscaping, and earth-moving not only helped with the bottom line, but helped make it truly a community project. Cindy and Jim were largely responsible for getting this level of participation from local business people.
So people were brought together -- several of the volunteers had lived in town a number of years, but never really knew anyone here. Some longtime community members had never found time before this project to get involved in town. Good friendships were formed working together. As for new skills, even the most experienced of the carpentry crew worked through some complicated problems involving a rickety, 164-year-old building that had just made a trip across the road. The dozen or so women who built the two sheds of the open air museum learned to run power equipment, chisel lap joints, and a whole new vocabulary including "kerf," "collar tie" and "sheathing."
Another benefit of the project that Jim and Cindy led to fruition is that it gave new life to a parcel of land right at the entrance to Lincolnville Center and, in the process, demonstrated how to use and re-use local resources, the very definition of sustainability.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.
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