Historic Highlight

Which Iconic Building Inspired This Bailey Island Landmark?

(Hint: It’s synonymous with a founding father.)

the 1912 Bailey Island Library Hall
TEXT & PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIE SENK

From our Fall 2021 issue 

In Harpswell, the 1912 Bailey Island Library Hall references a symbol as synonymous with George Washington as his powdered wig. Ornamented with Palladian windows, a full-length colonnade, rounded dormers, and a copper-domed cupola, the story-and-a-half Colonial Revival conjures Washington’s 18th-century Mount Vernon home in miniature. Designed by New York architectural firm Mann & MacNeille, the Library Hall grew out of a period when the nation was nostalgic for Colonial architectural styles. In 1900, the magazine American Architect and Building News published architectural drawings of Mount Vernon readers could purchase. Later, prefab riffs on the home were available through mail-order catalogs.

Rusticators and a literary society known as the Mingo Club, formed by a group of island girls, raised funds for the library and community center — a necessary anchor given that the nearest library on Orrs Island was only accessible by boat. (The Bailey Island Bridge connecting the islands was not built until 1928.) Over the years, the Bailey Island Library Hall, which had dropped its library function by the mid-1900s, has hosted myriad plays, concerts, bean suppers, weddings, and seminars, including one by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung in 1936. Today, it’s maintained by the Mingo Club, which has ensured it remains an unsubtle nod to our first president.

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