Public Library Camden

The design challenge for this historic Carnegie Library was to develop a landscape design that could accommodate an extensive library addition and expanded outdoor library programs, while maintaining the picturesque and historical significance of the existing library grounds and outdoor amphitheater as originally designed by landscape architect Fletcher Steele (1885 – 1971) – known as an early modernist.  To accomplish this, the library addition was placed under the South Lawn of the Library Grounds, and the historical topographic profile of the South Lawn reestablished on top of the additions roof. It’s only interruption being a “garden pavilion” skylight, a necessary intrusion to allow daylight to fill the subterranean reading room.  New and restored site wall installations were constructed to conform to the materials, workmanship and detailing of historic walls, and the lines of the original upper terrace were not altered.  The addition of a Children’s Reading Garden associated with the new entrance was included as part of the expanded Community Reading Program of the Library.  Its sculptural bluestone bench is supported by stone “books” whose titles represent contributions Maine authors and illustrators have made to children’s literature.  The Camden Library Children’s Garden has been the inspiration of several Children’s Reading Gardens across the country.  The sensitivity and restraint shown to the work of Fletcher Steele by the new designed landscape was recognized with the designation of the Library Grounds and Amphitheatre as a National Historic Landmark in 2013.

Site Area

1.5 acres

Project Components

Children’s Reading Garden
Restored Historical West Lawn
Restored Historical Site Retaining Walls
Historical Plantings


Amphitheatre and Library Grounds National Historic Landmark (2013)
Maine Preservation Statewide Historic Preservation Awards Preservation Project Award (2004) Maine Chapter AIA Award (1997)
AGC Build America National (1996)
ACM Build Maine Award (1996)

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