The Gazebo for the Patten Free Library
Built - 1989
Bath, Maine is located along the Kennebec River and is a typical waterfront community with a very rich nautical heritage. It is also the home of the world-class shipbuilder-Bath Iron Works and the nationally acclaimed Maine Maritime Museum. Its first recorded maritime history began only 12 miles down the river when 400 years ago the first ship was built by settlers in the New World and launched from that point. From then on, shipyards in and near Bath have built vessels whcih have sailed the seas of the world.
Bath's first bandstand was built in 1883 and occupied a prominent position in a newly-landscaped Victorian-style park which had a pond with boulders along the edges, a fountain and rustic bridge. Most New England communities at that time had local band members and carpenters design and build their community's bandstands, but Bath brought in a renowned designer, Frances Fassett, who had designed many public buildings in Maine.
The bandstand was one of the many features of the park which had been planned by John Ramsay, Bath's Superintendant of Cemeteries from 1883 to 1897 and who was a landscape gardener. The property on which the bandstand and park were built was formerly the home of Peleg Tallman ( 1764-1840) who was a naval hero and prominent Maine businessman. The property was enhanced with shade trees which replaced the many fruit trees and the lot of land enclosed with a fence. One account noted that the property had been transformed from "a nature to a beauty spot."
Bath's Patten Free Library was built at the same time as the original bandstand in 1889 and when the library planned a 100th birthday, it was thought appropriate that a new "gazebo" be built on the site left empty when the first bandstand was torn down in 1953.
Financing of the structure was made possible by public funding and volunteer help to erect the magnificent structure as designed by James Edward Stilphen with help from Gary Berger of the library. Mr. Stilphen's design was reminiscent of the earlier style of bandstand but of a much larger size - 34 feet in diameter with double staircases. The builders included Eric Anderson, Gary Berger, Steven Hammond, John Kennedy, John Morris, James Stilphen and William Van Wickler.
The new bandstand has often been used as a home to the Bath Municipal Band which was formed in 1961. The band has attracted musicians from 20 or more of the surrounding towns and owns its own building now with a rehearsal hall, kitchen and a library and also a portable bandstand.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY:
Barbara Esmond, Bath Historical Society &
"Lest We Forget" - Barbara Merrill Fox, author