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Camden Harbor Park And Amphitheatre

Camden Harbor Park And Amphitheatre
Atlantic Avenue


Harbor Park and the Amphitheatre were a magnificent gift to the library in 1931 from Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist. They are a shared legacy for all to enjoy.

Constructed in 1928, The Camden Public Library, the only library in the village of Camden, Maine, sits at the highest point on Main Street. Architects Parker Morse Hooper and Charles Greely Loring chose to position their building close to the street, under the shade of existing elms and maples - a more direct relationship with its surrounding built environment rather than its larger landscape scenery.

In March, 2013, the Camden Public Library and Amphitheatre were designated a National Historic Landmark. Landmark status is awarded for nationally significant historic places that possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. The grounds of the Amphitheatre and library are among the few public projects of Fletcher Steele, one of America's premier practitioners of 20th-century landscape design. According to the National Historic Landmarks Program, it is an outstanding representation of the contributions made by the landscape architecture profession, private benefactors, and national associations to develop public landscapes in the United States that celebrated natural regional beauty, scenic character, and rich cultural history.

The grounds of the Camden Public Library create a distinctly unique, highly articulated series of landscape experiences, the centerpiece of which is a public outdoor garden amphitheater. Designed by the renowned landscape architect Fletcher Steele, this landscape is one of his best works of art. It was designed and constructed between 1928 and 1931, and funded by local patron of the arts, Mary Louise Curtis Bok. Steele's landscape design is an important transitional composition that blends elements of the traditional Neoclassical with the 'new' ideas of the French Moderne (Art Deco) and successfully marries the ideals of the Renaissance Italian garden theater with the richness of Maine's native landscape. The popularity and unique qualities of the amphitheater immediately led to the christening of the site as the "Camden Amphitheatre".

The Camden Amphitheatre retains its historic integrity, setting, original materials and the quality of original workmanship and design. Fieldstone, brick, grass and native trees and shrubs weave their way throughout the Amphitheatre, and wrought iron rails, light standards, gates and arches add grace and French-inspired Art Deco overtones to the carefully executed, highly detailed landscape design.

Today the Amphitheatre continues to serve its historic purposes, as a public entertainment space, park and garden for visitors and residents of Camden. Since the completion of a major preservation treatment plan finished in 2004, a phased implementation program has restored missing elements in the Amphitheatre, rejuvenated ailing plantings and established a carefully supervised maintenance program for its long term management. Camden Harbor Park also underwent an extensive rehabilitation that was completed at the same time. Both were funded by a municipal bond issue, approved by Camden voters, and by generous private donations.

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