Brunswick Village Improvement Association
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For 130 years the Village Improvement Association has sought "to improve and ornament the Town of Brunswick and to promote the sanitary conditions thereof by united and personal efforts." This was the rallying call of Bowdoin Professor Chapman and Mr. I. P. Booker on April 9, 1878 as they appealed to friends and neighbors in the Village of Brunswick "to take an interest in matters of backyard beauty, cows in the streets, young boys climbing young trees, horses frightened by litter and bad places in the highway." The Association was formed, dues set at $1.00, an annual meeting established, and the Town Mall was put under the province of the Committee for Trees and Ornamentation. An early accomplishment of the VIA was the extension of the Town Mall to upper Maine Street. This area is now known as the Upper Mall. A decade later, in 1888, the President's report declared: "The field of usefulness of our Association remains as wide as ever."
In the 1980s the plastic Christmas decorations in downtown Brunswick were replaced by the VIA with natural evergreen trees, running the length of Maine Street from Fort Andross to the historic First Parish Church, and down Pleasant Street several blocks. This endeavor is now funded by the Brunswick In-Town Group. The Livesay family donates lights for the VIA gazebo every year.
Each spring the VIA presents floral May Basket awards to various businesses that have enhanced the downtown area with significant improvements to their properties. Outlying businesses receive certificates of appreciation.
Since 1996 the "Petunia Madness" project has provided 3,500 petunia plants for seven median strip beds along Maine Street. Large hanging baskets adorn the light posts.
As part of the spectacular renovation of the Curtis Memorial Library, the Village Improvement Association provided the funds for a spacious garden, landscaped primarily with rhododendrons and embellished with benches, iron gates and an elegant granite-capped brick wall. When you visit the library, please stop in to see our garden.
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Looking back on more than a century of effort, we find trees, shrubs, parks and park benches, a gazebo and ice rink on the Lower Mall, new disease-free Liberty elm trees and hanging baskets on Maine Street.
The beauty of downtown Brunswick in all seasons is taken for granted by many who forget that it doesn't just happen. It is due to the efforts of a few long time members of the VIA. Now our pressing dilemma is the decreasing numbers and aging of this devoted group. What a shame it would be if, after 129 years of faithful effort, this organization were to cease to exist due to lack of interest and involvement. We are very much in need of new and younger blood to insure the continuation of our activities to beautify Brunswick and to care for our downtown area in the coming years.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Village Improvement Association, you may join at the meeting, or by sending $1.00 to Russell Pierce at 59 Federal Street, Brunswick, Maine 04011. Your check should be made out to the Village Improvement Association.
Additional contributions are always welcome. They fund the spectacular islands of petunia beds on lower Maine Street, reaching all the way to the Mill; the decoration of the evergreen tree near the First Parish Church with holiday lights, and the maintenance of the perennial beds at the Spanish Square and around the gazebo on the Mall.
April 12, 2013: The Village Improvement Annual Meeting will begin at 3:30pm in the Morrell Meeting Room at the Curtis Memorial Library.
back to toplast revised April 2, 2013