The Baxter Gallery, built by Portland mayor James Phinney Baxter in 1888, was Portland’s public library until 1979. Abandoned by the library’s move to its current location at Congress and Elm Street (site C11), the building stood empty until 1981, when senior students of Portland School of Art (now Maine College of Art) used it for their senior art show. Maine College of Art purchased the building, using it for studio and exhibit space until renovation to their site at the former Porteous building, 522 Congress Street (site C14), was completed in the mid-2000s. It stood abandoned another ten years until its purchase by VIA Group, an advertising agency, in 2010 for its offices.
Mehetabel Cummings Baxter (1837-1914), Baxter’s second wife, was an artist and founder of the Portland Society of Art. Several women served as head librarian during the public library’s occupancy of the building, including Jane Lord Burbank, from 1925 to 1941, and Grace Trappan, from 1941 to 1970.