The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gleason Public Library celebrates another milestone


Library Director Angela Mollett presents Christopher and Michael Lando with hard hats during the library celebration on Saturday. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

Gone is the scaffolding that covered much of the front of the building during the repairs, as well as the temporary fencing to keep young and old from wandering through the construction. On May 22 Carlisle residents were invited to celebrate the completion of the renovation and repair to the Gleason Public Library.

The original building, completed in 1896, has been updated and expanded through the years, matching the growth of the town and its residents. Before 1872, libraries in Carlisle were private and by subscription only. The first free Carlisle Public Library was created after the 1872 Town Meeting voted to appropriate $140 for a collection, which was housed in Union Hall and the Wheat Tavern. The library soon outgrew its home and a dedicated building was needed.

On September 17, 1894, Carlisle residents voted to accept a gift of $6,000 from former resident Joanna Gleason “to erect a brick building for a free public library,” as she stated in a letter to T. A. Green. She also donated $200 to furnish the reading room and other needs. In addition she threw in $100 towards the stone underpinning of the building, which was repaired during this year’s renovations. Construction for Carlisle’s first library building began on the Bedford Road land purchased for $500 from Nathaniel Hutchinson.

The finished facility, which was dedicated in 1896, cost $9,413.19, including the land and building. When the library opened, it was so important to the town that a day-long festival was held, including a dinner at Union Hall.

Expansion almost 80 years later

By 1972 the library needed additional space and Town Meeting appropriated $168,000 for an addition and $42,000 for renovations. The renovations were to the front of the library, which provided a home for town offices, including the Town Clerk, Selectmen, and Assessors. Some town committees still met in homes, however.

The grand opening for the 3,524 square-foot addition took place in 1973. Renovations to existing spaces continued into 1986, including enlarging the children’s room and creating a quiet study area.

Second expansion

More than 20 years later, the library had again outgrown its space. The town offices had moved to the new Town Hall in 1997 freeing some space, however renovations were needed to provide handicapped access to the upper levels and bathrooms. A new addition was designed in 1999 that incorporated the historic origins of the library and replaced the previous addition. The town voted to appropriate $1,489,067 for the project, accepting a $919,388 Massachusetts Public Library Construction grant. The old addition was demolished and a new 7,900 square feet, two-story addition was created, which opened in 2000.

The library today

The recent project, begun in September 2009, was a restoration rather than an expansion. Besides re-pointing masonry on the historic façade, the building received massive weatherproofing, including repair of the slate roof, which proved successful during the deluge this spring. Landscaping includes flower beds, trees, and is designed to steer water away from the building.

The project has come in under budget. Town Meeting in 2009 allocated $775,000 in Community Preservation Act funds. According to Town Accountant Priscilla Dumka, once the final bills are paid, roughly $160,000 will be left over and returned to the CPA Fund. ∆

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