Only 270,000 Bricks!
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Only a brick, but 270,00 were used in erecting the Municipal Building! The “new” Millinocket Municipal Building (and still in use today) was dedicated on Thursday, August 23, 1951, as part of the massive Millinocket 50th birthday celebration.
For several years prior to 1951, town leaders discussed the need for a proper building in which to conduct town business. In August 1938, a special Town Meeting was held at the armory on Central Street to see what action would be taken. The U.S. government through the Federal Emergency Administration would contribute 45%.
At the town meeting, Crowell and Lancaster, architects, presented a plan for the building. Voters that day turned it down. They said they were willing to build a municipal building but did not want government financial aid!
Although this put a “damper” on any further action, there were several enthusiastic supporters who kept the issue open. Later at a regular town meeting, someone suggested that yearly, a sum of money be put aside for constructing and furnishing a municipal building. Between 1943 to 1949, $40,000 was set aside for that purpose. That money along with almost $265,000 in bond money financed the building.
In 1950, a building committee to supervise the construction was chosen consisting of: Chairman Frank Bowler, F.E. Doyle, J. Fred Tingley, Harold C. Gates, E.D. Chapman, Garfield Jones, Frank LePage, Jr., and Ernest O’Connell. Crowell and Lancaster were hired as the architects and the plan was accepted. Construction began in the fall of 1949 with T.W. Cunningham Inc. of Bangor doing the work. The planned design was similar to that of the post office down the street (1937) and of the new fire station on Aroostook Avenue.
A souvenir brochure of the new building’s construction (and several photos of the process) was available at the town’s 50th birthday celebration. Photos show working on forms after a snowstorm, building forms for two large vaults and erecting the steel. Two photos show two men pulling and one pushing a two-wheeled cart of cement up a ramp to pour into the forms. Photos show progress of the brick-laying. Some photos appear to have been taken from the upper floor of a building across and down the street a bit. It is interesting to see the surrounding buildings and how the portion of the street looks so different today!
The new building opened 4/9/1951 where the old fire station had been. The two-story brick building would house the town offices, the municipal court and the police department. There was also a public room, an auditorium with a stage (2nd floor) and a kitchen. Many community events were to be held there until years later the second floor was renovated to accommodate the district court and the events moved the schools. From 1979-2014 the Millinocket Historical Society Museum occupied 2 small spaces that had been the kitchen area.