Baxter Library Building 

(VIA Agency)

619 Congress Street, Portland, Maine  |  2010 Preservation Award Winner

The Issue

The Baxter Library Building was donated to the City of Portland by Mayor James P Baxter to serve as the city’s downtown library, a role it served for 90 years. The Richardsonian Romanesque Building was designed by Francis Fassett.  After the library moved to a new building in 1979, the building was acquired by the Maine College of Art (MECA) in 1982. When MECA consolidated their programs into a newly restored former department store down the street (see the Porteous Building), the future of this architectural landmark was uncertain.

Our Position

In 1990 the building was listed as a local historic landmark and became a landmark building in the Congress Street Historic District in 2009. John Coleman of the Via Group, a nationally prominent marketing firm, recognized the potential of this landmark building for reuse as modern offices.  The company utilized historic tax credits to complete the comprehensive $4.6 million rehabilitation of the former library building. The rehabilitation preserved the historic polychrome exterior and many interior elements like the marble floors, barrel vault ceilings, wood paneling and ornamentation, and the 125-year old library card cases and shelving.

Greater Portland Landmarks awarded The Via Agency their 2010 Special Preservation Honor Award to celebrate the preservation and revitalization of this beautiful landmark building in the Congress Street Historic District.

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What You Can Do

  • Take our self-guided tour of Congress Street and view the Baxter Library Building
  • Support Landmarks' advocacy efforts and educational programs