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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.

Under the basement floor

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 29, 2018

As the workers at our Main Library renovation and construction project now says; “It is coming up out of the dirt and you are going to start seeing the new building.”


The project started 3 months ago, but much of the work completed has been out-of-sight either in the basement of the Carnegie building or under the dirt around the building.


Sewer and water lines have been installed both underground as well as under the basement floor.


Demolition has taken place with the 1963 Annex and the 1948 Bookmobile garages, both now gone forever.


Everyone wants to know what historical items and neat objects have been found so far ---   and I must confess that nothing dramatic has been located in the construction.


We have renamed the “basement” of the Carnegie building as the “Lower Level” since once the renovation work is complete, that area will be much more attractive than it has looked in the past 117 years.


The Lower Level will be exclusively a “staff area” with the Street Level, 1st floor, and 2nd floor used by the public.


The north end of the Lower Level was originally the site of the coal-fired steam boiler from 1902 until the installation of a gas-fired steam boiler in 1957.


The floor in that area had a square section of steel plates, which we assumed was the outline of that coal boiler.


Actually, demolition needed for new sewer lines found that it was actually the outline of the old boiler frame which had to be cut to allow those lines to be installed.


Under the floor was found some chunks of coal remaining from 1957, as well as ash and clinkers that were used to fill the coal bin and the stoker that moved the coal into the boiler.


Perhaps more interesting is the copper tray that was found under the restroom floor in the debris that held the concrete in place.


The restroom has undergone a couple of renovations over the years and the copper plate measuring 3 inches by 5 inches was tossed under the floor at some point in time.


It is about an inch deep, and my guess is that it was a soap dish from the original rest room.


Regardless, it is a nifty piece, obviously hand-made many years ago, and added to the collection of odds and ends from the construction.


I have a brick from the house that occupied the library site from 1840 to 1899, as well as a paving brick found behind the house site, which says “Metropolitan Block, Canton, Ohio.”


There have been countless pieces of stone found in the excavations, probably pieces of the stonework used in constructing the 1902 building as masons shaped the huge stones to form the foundation.


The next job will be the cleaning and restoration of the back wall of the Carnegie building which was painted silver by a custodian in the 1950s when the garage was added and the wall formed the interior of the garage.


Unfortunately, a test of the wall cleaning revealed black paint under the silver paint making the cleaning more difficult.


There is also a rectangle of paint on the wall where the “mop sink” was located, right where the new interior stairway will be located.


The foundation of the new building will begin to rise from the dirt on the new concrete grade beams that sit on the 45 ft. deep pile-driven caissons that support the new 2-story annex.


My purpose of sharing all of this information is so you will accept this project as a marvelous new library complex that will belong to everyone in our community, and will serve for years to come as our new library campus.