Camden landmark celebrates historic designation
Camden — After years of hard work, the dream of one dedicated man for his small town has come true.
A journey, spearheaded by David Jackson of Camden, began in 2004, has finally come to a close as Camden Public Library and Bok Amphitheatre have been designated a National Historic Landmark.
A celebration of the achievement took place July 13 at the Amphitheatre with a musical concert and designation ceremony. The theme of the ceremony was the1930s, the decade in which the Amphitheatre officially opened in the High Street district. The library opened in 1928.
There was also a pre-designation party with lawn games and refreshments.
An hour-long concert by Midcoast Brass Quintet entertained the guests with a playlist of the hits from the era.
President of Camden Library's Board of Trustees Polly Saltonstall and Nikki Maounis, director of Camden Public Library, welcomed guests and announced a number of special guest speakers, including Jackson.
Speakers included Christi Mitchell, an architectural historian from the Historic Preservation Commission; and Julie Isbill, a landscape architect for the National Park Service.
Jackson spoke of his emotions upon receiving word of the designation and the overwhelming support of the library trustees, the town, state and federal government.
“This is a very special day, I had to wait seven years, but I did not wait alone,” he said. “It was truly a team effort.”
Jackson went on to thank all of those along the way that have helped the dream become a reality and gave some of the history behind what prompted him to apply or and write a grant offered by the National Parks Service. He also reminded people that none of this would have been possible without the generous gift and vision of Mary Louise Curtis Bok.
On hand were Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Chris Rector, representing Sen. Angus King’s office.
Pingree said she is proud of her connection to Camden and praised Jackson for his hard work and dedication. She also spoke of her connection with the Bok family and her days on North Haven and time spent on the Bok farm in Camden.
“It is great to see the vision of the Bok family recognized as a historic landmark,” Pingree said. “Historic designation shows the rest of the world how important this is to the rest of us.”
Rector spoke for both himself and on behalf of King saying “It’s wonderful to see the foresight and the vision of Mary Louise Curtis Bok had still serves the same purpose today that it was originally meant for.”
Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre received the designation in March and were awarded landmark status for being a nationally significant historic place possessing exceptional values or qualities illustrating the heritage of the United States.
According to the library website, “The grounds of the amphitheatre and library are among the few public projects of Fletcher Steele, one of America’s premier practitioners of 20th-century landscape design. According to the National Historic Landmarks Program, it is an outstanding representation of the contributions made by the landscape architecture profession, private benefactors, and national associations to develop public landscapes in the United States that celebrated natural regional beauty, scenic character, and rich cultural history.”
The first event to ever take place in the amphitheatre was the June graduation of Camden High School class of 1931.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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