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Camden Garden Amphitheatre & Library Grounds

Modern Landscapes

Camden Garden Amphitheatre & Library Grounds
Camden, Maine

Heritage Landscapes has completed a number of important planning and implementation projects for the Camden Library Grounds and Amphitheatre, designed by Fletcher Steele from 1928 and constructed by 1931. The library landscapes north of Atlantic Avenue were constructed as a local work relief program through the patronage of Mary Curtis Bok. Fletcher Steele’s sole public commission, this landscape is significant as the first modernist design in America. The bent axis in relation to the library, harbor and seascape, the crisp geometry of forms, and the unique detailing and craft exhibited in this highly original design of the Amphitheatre are innovative.  Located in the heart of the Camden community the library landscapes are character-defining elements of the Town of Camden and are used heavily by both townspeople and tourists. A comprehensive Camden Amphitheatre, Park and Library Grounds Historic Landscape Report and Preservation Treatment Plan was prompted in 1997 by library expansion and related impacts to the Steele Amphitheatre.

As planning shifted toward implementation community conflicts arose and the landscape architect played important roles in working with a citizens commission to reach consensus and to develop clear project guidelines. In 1999 the Library Grounds were planted to new shade trees and stone walks and steps were repaired. In 2004 construction documents and administration for the partial restoration of the Camden Amphitheatre proceeded. Elements included repair of stone steps and walls, improved soils and drainage, water supply and irrigation, and selected restored plantings. The Camden community rededicated these community treasures in September 2004. Heritage Landscapes won a professional award for the work in 2005. Restoration of the Fauns Garden, installation of the Compass of the Winds casting and stonework, and repair of a Steele designed toolhouse was completed in 2006, funded by a National Trust Lowe’s grant. A National Landmark nomination for this nationally significance is underway. Education and interpretation initiatives are proceeding.

 

Projects:
Fauns Garden Restoration & Camden Amphitheatre Phase 2, 2006; Camden Amphitheatre, construction documents and administration, 2002-2004; Independent Commission technical assistance, 1999-2002; Library Grounds construction documents, 1999; Historic Landscape Report, Preservation Treatment Plan, 1997.

Client:
Camden Public Library Board, Independent Commission, Citizens Advisory Committee, Camden Harbor Park & Amphitheatre Conservancy

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Fauns Garden and Camden Amphitheatre, Phase 2, 2006 with Dave Jackson, Camden Conservancy Camden Amphitheatre partial Restoration with TreeKeepers consulting arborist; Library Grounds & Meadow construction documents with Kerry Hardy; Historic Landscape Report with Robin Karson and Charles E. Beveridge, PhD., landscape historians.