Because renovations are underway in the main library, the Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie is using its basement for normal operations. Here, Chris Decoske of Right Electric installs new wiring.
Wayne Rabbit of Landau Building Co., right, is supervisor of renovations at the Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie. Many of the library's books are stored in boxes.
James Elish of Patrinos Painting applies primer to the ceiling of the main library room of the Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie. The historic building is in the midst of a $430,000 in repairs and renovations.
By Linda Wilson Fuoco
Drop cloths, ladders, scaffolds and workmen have replaced the books and computer work stations on the first floor of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.
But the temporary inconvenience will lead to a $450,000 interior transformation at the historic landmark building atop the Beechwood Avenue hill in Carnegie.
The library closed for three days in mid-May as library director Diane Klinefelter directed efforts to move the books and computers into the basement-level Studio.
Instead of hiring movers, the heavy lifting was done by staff and volunteers, including Len Walnoha, who brought 10 workers from Heyl & Patterson, an engineering company in Carnegie, where he is vice president.
All library activities including programs for children have operated downstairs all summer.
Work includes new lighting and wiring, plaster repairs, painting, carpeting, ceiling sprinklers, a new security system and ergo-dynamically correct computer stations.
The roof leaked for decades, damaging century-old plaster in the ceilings and walls of the building. Plaster has been held together with duct tape and then painted over. The damage has now been repaired, and the main library room, which has been yellow, will be repainted in three shades of cream.
The latest work brings the total to $8 million, for repairs and restoration that began in 2003. The fund-raising campaign has been managed by Maggie Forbes, executive director of the library and music hall.
Funding for the latest round of interior work includes a $200,000 grant from the Allegheny Foundation; $180,401 from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Keystone Recreation Park and Conservation Fund; and $50,000 from PPG Industries Foundation; as well as money from ongoing fundraising projects.
The $8 million in repairs and renovations has made the building “weatherproof, structurally sound, accessible,” Ms. Forbes said. In the Music Hall, seats were replaced and the lobby and dressing rooms were restored. In the library, air conditioning was installed. The Civil War room was restored and the “old waterlogged gym has been converted to attractive, multi-purpose programming space.”
The latest round of repairs and renovations are cosmetic, rather than structural, “but making the library beautiful again is so exciting,” Ms. Forbes said.
Renovations go beyond cosmetics. Though large windows provide plentiful light for daytime reading, “at night it’s like trying to read by candle light,” she said.
New lighting will include new lamps at computer stations and reading areas.
The Design Alliance Architects oversaw the project and Landau Building Company of Wexford is construction manager.
The grand reopening will be on Sunday, Oct. 25 with an event that will include a performance by Cello Fury, belly dancing in the Lincoln Gallery and a caricature artist for children.
The library will offer a sneak peak of the renovations Oct. 2 during the annual benefit, Menard Presents: Carnegies in Concert. Performances feature faculty and alumni from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music.
Tickets are $75-$125, including a post-concert reception.
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