SOUTHWEST HARBOR — As if he weren’t already a household name around here, master of the macabre Stephen King has given the town library a $50,000 matching grant for its renovation campaign, helping to push donations beyond the original goal of $875,000.
Under conditions of the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation grant, the library will receive $1 for every $2 received in new gifts after Jan. 1, up to $50,000. Since last summer, the library has raised $1 million to add a second story, expand its children’s section and improve public access to computers.
According to Gary Friedmann, the campaign’s fund-raising consultant, the extra funds will be added to the library’s small endowment, something fund-raisers had hoped to be able to do. Income from the endowment will maintain the newly improved facility when it is completed later this year.
“Raising endowment funds can be more difficult than raising money for bricks and mortar,” said Sam Shaw, campaign coordinator. “We’re thrilled by the generosity of the Kings’ support for libraries all over the state. We’re thrilled they realize the importance of the endowment.”
The grant comes as Southwest Harbor is being inundated by King-related activity. Within the next two weeks, Main Street will be transformed into the set of an ABC television miniseries of the author’s screenplay, “Storm of the Century.”
The grant is sure to be welcomed by residents here, some of whom made it clear they would like the town compensated for the inconvenience of having Main Street closed during the weeklong filming in January and for several days this spring. At a public hearing on “Storm” last fall, more than one resident suggested King make a donation to the library.
Friedmann acknowledged Wednesday that communications with the King Foundation “really picked up” after it became clear the TV miniseries was going to be filmed in town. Not having heard from the foundation since they applied for the grant in August, library officials placed a phone call to the Kings’ philanthropy in December, he said, and received the challenge grant shortly thereafter.
Still, Friedmann said the library didn’t pull any strings to get the grant. “We went through the normal process,” he said.
The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation has donated generously to libraries throughout Maine, including a multimillion-dollar donation to the Bangor Public Library.
Overjoyed by the “overwhelmingly supportive” response the campaign has received from the community so far, Friedmann has set a new goal of $1.25 million. “People have been so generous to this campaign, we decided to keep on going,” he said.