HALLOWELL — The Hubbard Free Library is moving ahead with repairs after four window panels were destroyed in late June in a case of suspected vandalism.
Kenneth Young, president of the Hallowell library’s board of trustees, said the estimate for Stained Glass Express to replace the storm panels is $4,420.
“It seems like a lot of money,” Young said, “but imagine the sequence. They’re up high on the back wall, you have to go up to get them and bring them down, clean up any broken glass and then get the new glass, cut it, put it back in the metal frames, put up the staging and then climb up and put them back in.”
The repair work involves only the panels because the stained glass protected by the panels was not damaged.
It is unclear how the damage occurred or who is responsible, but Young said the back of the building could have been accessed at night via a right of way near the railroad tracks.
Young said library officials had also contacted the company to do restoration and weatherization work on nine stained glass windows, a $7,800 project. He said all of the work is expected to be completed by the end of September.
The library has a vandalism clause in its property insurance that Young said should cover the repair costs. He said officials have been in contact with an adjustor for six weeks, and the insurer has asked the library staff be patient as the claim is processed.
“We should hear from them hopefully sometime soon,” Young said, “so that the storm panels can be replaced while Stained Glass Express is still there working on the stained glass windows.”
Built in three phases in 1880, 1893 and 1897, the Hubbard Free Library is the oldest library building in Maine that is still being used as a library.
Aside from an incident in 1937, when a derailment at the railroad caused a boxcar to collide into the building and destroy a stained glass window and part of the building’s granite wall, Young said he was not aware of incident in which the building was damaged or vandalized.
A firm in Rhode Island made the storm panels, which were installed in 2019. Young said it cost $45,000 to have the panels placed in all 21 windows.
As a prerequisite for vandalism coverage, Young said the library reported the incident to the police.
“I talked to the chief personally and he sent some people up to look around,” Young said. “There was no evidence. No cigarette with DNA or anything like that.”
Regardless of what happened, Young said he did not believe it was done out of malice.
“It’s always disappointing when something like this happens,” he said. “My first reaction is disbelief. Why would somebody do that? But then you understand that these things happen, get it fixed and move on.”
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