Camden landmark celebrates historic designation

By Dwight Collins | Jul 17, 2013
Photo by: Dwight Collins The Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre received National Historic Landmark status in March 2013. A celebration was held July 13 to honor the achievement.

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.

David Jackson helps set up for the National Historic Landmark celebration at the amphitheatre in Camden July 13. Jackson was the driving force behind gaining the historic landmark status for the Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Midcoast Brass Quintet performs period songs during the National Historic Landmark designation ceremony July 13 in Camden. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Sarah Duggan, left, and Ken Gross are dressed in period outfits to celebrate the Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre receiving National Historic Landmark designation. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree was on hand to help Camden celebrate the library and amphitheatre designation as a National Historic Landmark July 13. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Penny Read and Kathy Maloney welcome guests during the National Historic Landmark celebration July 13 at the Camden Amphitheatre. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
John Fitzgerald, vice president of the Camden Library Board of Trustees, sports a traditional Henley sailing hat in the spirit of celebrating the 1930s at the National Historic Landmark celebration July 13. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Camden Selectman Don White shows his support by attending the National Historic Landmark celebration July 13. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
A large gathering of people came to help celebrate Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre's designation as a National Historic Landmark July 13. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
This plaque was created to commemorate the Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre's designation as a National Historic Landmark. (Photo by: Dwight Collins)
Comments (3)
Posted by: William Pease | Jul 18, 2013 11:48

Indeed, what a wonderful and incredibly beautiful spot of the whole United States it is. A well deserved historic designation that has been too long in the coming, but finally it's here. Congratulations, Camden, and many thanks Mary Louise Curtis Bok!

Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Jul 18, 2013 07:24

Fabulous news!!

Posted by: Kerry Hadley | Jul 17, 2013 11:07

Congratulations to the Camden Public Library and kudos to Dave Jackson.

What a wonderful day it looks like it was.


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