Letter the editor: Maine Preservation

Save the Mary E. Taylor School

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 3:45pm

The 28,200 square foot middle school on Knowlton Street in Camden was designed in 1925 by the highly regarded architecture firm of Bunker and Savage of Augusta and falls under the jurisdiction of the Camden-Rockport School Administrative District 28. It was renamed after Mary E. Taylor in 1957, who had served as the school’s principal from 1916-1953. Adaptive use of this building, a key community asset, should be the default, and demolition the last resort.

The Mary E. Taylor School is well-built, in excellent physical condition and within walking distance to downtown. Potential negative cultural social, environmental and economic impacts of demolishing this historic community anchor contradict important community goals. Working together will ensure this historic landmark remains both a functional tribute to quality education and encourages community sustainability and lasting civic values. We understand the focus of the School Board on quality education, but this focus should not come at the expense of ignoring educational heritage and community cultural values. The Camden community has too much to lose if the Mary E. Taylor School is allowed to be demolished.

Since 2008, more than 14 schools in Maine have been adapted for modern uses utilizing state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. The current reuse proposal will allow the Mary E. Taylor School to continue to function as a community anchor and will provide much needed space for the SAD offices and the Zenith Program as well as multipurpose space for community use. Rather than asking the community to pay for demolition costs and, in the future, costs to construct a new building with a shorter life expectancy to house these vital programs, taking this opportunity to rehabilitate the Mary E. Taylor School makes economic sense while creating several new jobs. It also helps tell Camden’s story – explaining the past while serving as the foundation of our future.

Greg Paxton, Executive Director, Maine Preservation

Sarah Hansen, Real Estate Manager, Maine Preservation