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UMFK plans double groundbreaking ceremony for new residence hall and Acadian Archives facilities on June 5

May 23, 2003


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will hold an historic double groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, June 5, for two new facilities that will be constructed over the coming year on the state's northernmost campus.

The event will mark the start of construction on both a $7 million, 150-bed, 47,595 square foot residence hall, and on a $2 million, 7,584 square foot building to house the University's Acadian Archives. Festivities will take place on the future sites of each facility.

At 1:00 p.m., UMFK students, faculty, staff and community members will gather for the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new residence hall on the north side of the University SportsCenter, which is located on the opposite side of Pleasant Street from the main campus. Activity at that venue will conclude with the official groundbreaking led by University President Richard Cost, UMFK and University of Maine System officials, and community leaders.

At the conclusion of events at the residence hall site, groundbreaking attendees will move across Pleasant Street to the "quad" area on the main part of campus to the south side of Blake Library, between that facility and Powell Hall, an existing UMFK dormitory. Once at the site, President Cost will lead the official breaking of the ground with ceremonial shovels for the Acadian Archives building. That will be followed by a social and with refreshments.

"Ironically, this unusual dual groundbreaking is a significant milestone for UMFK for two distinct reasons. The new residence hall will allow the university to attract and better serve future generations of students from the St. John Valley, Aroostook County and beyond. This building represents our future. At the same time, the Acadian Archives building symbolizes our roots and close ties to the past and to our local community. The Acadian Archives building will serve as the preeminent site for scholars of our unique culture and for genealogy researchers alike. This is a very important day for UMFK," said President Cost.

Pizzagalli Construction Company, one of the nation's largest privately owned contractors will be constructing the residence hall facility. The company, headquartered in South Burlington, Vermont, has an office in South Portland, Maine.

Pizzagalli offers general contracting, construction management and design/build services to private and public clients on a diverse grouping of projects ranging in size from $500,000 to over $100 million.

Aroostook County construction firm J.P. Martin and Sons of Caribou will be constructing the Acadian Archives facility

Both the UMFK residence hall building and Acadian Archives project were designed by Port City Architecture of Portland.

Port City offers a comprehensive range of interdisciplinary architectural services specializing in the institutional and commercial design markets.

When complete the new three-story residence hall's 150 beds will more than double the existing on-campus student housing available at UMFK.

Incorporated into the design will be a number of suite-style arrangements, and air conditioning in part of the building to accommodate for expanded summer programming at the university. An 80-space parking lot will be constructed adjacent to the facility.

Currently, the university is home to two residence halls with space for 125 students.

Crocker Hall was originally constructed in 1961, as a two-story women's dormitory. In 1969, a one-story, thirty bed addition was constructed.

Powell Hall was constructed as a men's dormitory in 1965 and houses approximately 70 students. Today both facilities are co-educational residence halls.

The dormitory is the first project on a University of Maine System campus to be design-built, meaning the architect and engineer proposal was presented to the university in a single package.

UMFK currently has an enrollment of 850 full and part-time students, 155 of which reside in one of the two campus residence halls.

President Cost has set a goal for the campus to reach 1,000 full-time students.

The two-story Acadian Archives building will be constructed as a connector building between Powell Hall and Blake Library. It will greatly increase the amount of space on campus for the Archives.

The project was made possible by Maine voters who passed a $36.7 million higher education bond in November 2001, which included $3.2 million for UMFK to purchase technology for Nadeau Hall, to renovate Cyr Hall, and to build the new Acadian Archives facility.

When complete, the building will include a conference room, reading room, work room, Archives reference desk, a bank of computers, research materials stacks, and Archives personnel space on the first floor. The second story will consist of a collections area, accessioning room, and administrative offices for university information resources personnel.

The additional space and much improved quarters will be a stark contrast to the current Acadian Archives.

The facility is housed in a cramped 733 square foot space on the second floor of the Blake Library. Bursting at the seams, the current facility is not handicapped accessible, and includes a climate controlled collections storage facility, an audio-visual lab, visitor's area/reading room, an accessioning work area, two small offices, and 78 additional feet of locked reference shelves.

With no dedicated space to process collections that are received, a visitors' area too small for more than one visitor, and no storage space, the activities of the Archives are hampered.

The Acadian Archives was founded in 1990 at UMFK to document, preserve, celebrate, and disseminate information about the history and cultural heritage of Maine's St. John Valley.

The Archives collects manuscripts and audio/visual materials relevant to the history, folklore, and folk-life of the region. It also has a library of reference books and other publications, including U.S. and Canadian census records for the Valley and microfilm editions of local newspapers.

Construction of both new facilities will be held during the coming year and will coincide with UMFK's 125th Anniversary Celebration.