The former Grace Youth Center will soon house the Jackson Memorial Library.
The former Grace Youth Center will soon house the Jackson Memorial Library.
After years of designing, fundraising and planning to build a new library building, Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor was just a few months from starting construction on the new building when the Lillius Gilchrest Grace Institute (LGGI) decided to donate the former Grace Youth Center (GYC), a 5-year-old building on 8 acres of land next to the St. George School, to house the library.

"When the library board and staff toured the GYC for the first time in late May we knew that there was great potential for this building to become the library. It's a natural fit and reuse for this building," said JML President Susan Bates. "By renovating this building, and with the land along the marsh, we're going to be able to provide more and better services and programs for the entire community."

"The Grace Institute has served the youth of St. George for more than 70 years," explained LGGI Board President Margie Grace Shethar. "It was a very difficult decision to close the Youth Center after so much hard work by staff and board members. The program was strong and such a benefit for the kids of the St. George School, but financial constraints forced the closure. When we learned that the library hadn't broken ground yet we knew we had an opportunity for the property to continue to benefit the entire community."

The gift was completed on July 3. Library Director Yvonne Gloede said, "It's an incredible building, closer to the school and the town office and will be a bigger and more robust facility. We're going to be able to do so much more for children, adults and families at this new site. With the closing of the youth center, there will be an even greater need for the library to provide more programs aimed at middle school students."

Building Committee Co-chair Joe Holub says that when he toured the building with architect Matt Elliott they both saw it as a wonderful opportunity for the library and the town. "What's important is what will be the best for the community - and that's to renovate this building," says Holub. "This gives us over 9,000 square feet to work with, more than double what we could have originally built." Over the next few months the library board and building committee will develop a plan for the renovations and a detailed budget.

"Thanks to the great generosity of the many donors to our Capital Campaign, we have the funds to refit this building as a library and community center for all of St. George, as well as to establish an endowment to maintain the renovated building in perpetuity," says Campaign Co-Chair Jim Graf. "People have been wonderfully generous, and we know everyone will be so very proud when they come to the new library and see what they have helped to create."

There will be an open house on Tuesday, July 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the community to see the building before renovations begin.