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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Demolition at the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, February 25, 2018


Thud and crash were the sounds at the Main Library as the garages and annex were demolished in preparation for the new addition to the building.


The whole process only took about 3 hours to accomplish, not to mention the 6 months of clean-out and years of planning to reach this point.


The major concern of this part of the construction work was to remove the two rear sections of the library building that had been added later without damaging the original Carnegie building.


The garage was added in 1948, and the annex in 1963; so the work was simply performed in reverse from their original construction.


Everything that could be reused or recycled was removed in a 4 month period with final disconnections of heating, plumbing, and electrical performed right before demolition.


The three air conditioning units were easy to remove, as all three broke down this past summer knowing that they were no longer being used.


The contractor sealed up the openings between the buildings so that no damages could take place at the time of demolition.


Some minor asbestos materials were extracted prior to the demolition to satisfy Ohio EPA and Ohio Dept. of Health regulations.


With the additions falling away from the 1902 building, the rear wall of the Carnegie building was exposed for the first time in 60 years.


Great anticipation went into the reveal of the wall, as much of it will be exposed in the new entryway courtyard, and as a feature wall next to the new interior stairway.


With some paint, roofing tar, and dirt removed, the wall appears to that it will be a wonderful feature of the new library complex.


The enormous base stones are certainly revealing, and in excellent condition to be reused as an interior wall surface.


David Griffith was the Library Director during the time in which both structures were added to the library building, and I was able to talk to him around 1990 about the additions.


He said that the additions were an attempt to add needed space to the library building in the 1950s, but there were long range plans to replace the whole facility with a new Main Library in another location.


The Carnegie building had severe roof and masonry problems that resulted in the removal of the top of the tower in 1956 and an entire new roof system the next year.


A Building Fund was established in 1964 for a new facility, but limited library funding pushed that forward until the 1987 construction of the Schiappa Branch Library in the West End.


Further studies found that the entire area would be better served with two buildings in the Steubenville metropolitan area with plans to make the Main Library ADA accessible and preserve the Carnegie building as an historic part of our community.


And so, on goes the Main Library Project which will resolve the last non-accessible public library building in Ohio --- ours.


Aside from the ADA issue, the renovation will replace mechanical systems that are beyond practical use, and reuse those items still functional --- such as the steam boiler for heating.


It will also make the entire building more functional and usable than before, and separate public from staff areas.


Better yet, during the demolition I kept watching the three chandeliers in the main lobby and never once did they even slightly sway as the machine pounded away at the concrete foundation of the additions.


It appears that maintaining the 1902 Carnegie building was a good idea.