Friday, July 5, 2013

Augusta: A Slice of American History

We spent a few days in Augusta, Maine, catching up on our to-do lists and delving into the area's history, appropriate for the 4th of July week. 

Old Fort Western served as a sort of home base for our time in Augusta, with its location right next to the grocery store and its picnic tables out front. It was neat to eat most of our meals at the historic Fort. 

The Fort, built in 1794, is incredibly well-preserved. 

We had the pleasure of chatting with Dick Freeman, who is affiliated with the Fort and was a trove of information about the history of the city and its buildings. Dick's passion for preservation and history were evident and highly admirable. 

Dick provided us with information about many other structures along with Old Fort Western. Dick's great-grandfather designed this gorgeous Gothic style church years ago. 

We loved the way the red door contrasted with the blue sky and green grass. 

When talking about preservation with Dick, he said "Maine has just been too poor to tear its old structures down." While a poor city may be less than ideal, in this case it has worked out for the best, keeping dozens of buildings, like this one, safe from demolition over the years. You can now rent office space in this old Federal building! 

Augusta's location on the Kennebec River made it ideal for transportation of goods and people and contributed to its bustling economy, which included a booming publishing industry. After a fire destroyed much of the city's downtown in the 1800's, many buildings were rebuilt using hardier materials like granite, leaving many of the buildings you still see along the waterfront today. 

Our other home base during our time in Augusta was the Lithgow Public Library, which just so happens to be on the National Register of Historic Places. Its doors opened to the community in 1894. Its granite block construction is still in excellent shape today. It is amazing to think that this building has always been a library; before reading the history, we assumed it had previously been some sort of important state building. 

The library has two grand fireplaces, facing each other on the East and West Walls. One is located in this incredible reading room, which remains much the same as when the library first opened. It is considered one of the most beautiful interior spaces in Maine. We had the privilege of reading, blogging, and relaxing in the reading room for several long afternoons. 

The second fireplace. 

The bookshelves were gorgeous, as well. 

We really enjoyed spending time in Augusta, where a piece of history was around every corner. 


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