June 26, 2009
Peck library renovations on display Saturday
Library will unveil ‘giving tree’ to raise money for capital project under way
MARATHON — In the lobby of Peck Memorial Library on Wednesday construction workers installed red oak doors designed to replicate the original doors and welcome residents into the library, which is now being renovated through a capital project.
The workers also hung on the wall of the lobby a “giving tree,” which will be unveiled to community members and returning Marathon High School graduates during a celebration at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Marathon alumni will return for the 122nd Alumni Banquet at Marathon High School the same day, and many of them are expected to attend the unveiling ceremony.
The tree consists of maple wood mounted onto the wall with 150 silver, gold and bronze leaves, which will be used to honor people who have contributed to the library’s capital project campaign.
It is located across from a plaque honoring Mersena Brink Peck, who left $20,000 in her will in 1891 for a free and public library to be erected.
All of this work is part of the first phase of the library’s capital project to restore and renovate the structure, which was built in 1895.
Construction on the project began when community members removed cinder blocks from the entrance in the fall of 2007, and work inside the library began about three months ago.
Cazenovia-based Expert Building Services designed the oak doors in the lobby. East Freetown-based Heider Construction hung the doors, installed new wood floors and walls on the first floor, gutted the area that used to be an Alliance Bank and redid the walls, White said.
Syracuse-based Heritage Masonry Restoration installed the wheelchair-accessible ramp at the front entrance, which will be completed when the state Department of Transportation finishes the front of the ramp on Main Street.
Volunteers have raised about $450,000 through contributions, grants and fundraisers. Before the first phase can be completed, the capital campaign will have to raise another $60,000, said Connie White, co-chair of the capital campaign.
David Light co-chairs the campaign with White.
White said that she hopes when people see the “Giving Tree,” in the lobby of the library on Saturday, more will decide to donate to the campaign.
“We all can have our name in the cemetery. It’s nice to have it here in the community,” White said.
So far, 80 people or families have been honored on the wall with leaves. People who donate $1,000 to $2,999 are given a bronze leaf, people who donate $3,000 to $5,999 are given silver leaves and people who donate $6,000 or more are given gold leaves.
“We’ve got 70 more leaves that we hope people will take,” White said.
One of the bronze leaves honors Emma Shannen Fritts, a student at Appleby Elementary School who sold her toys and took pledges to read 60 books last summer to collect $1,000 for the capital project, White said. Many of the leaves contain short written messages, and Fritts’ says “I love to read.”
Many other leaves say the names of deceased people whose family members made a contribution in memory of them.
Each contributor on the tree is also being asked to provide a written history of the giver and the people being honored.
The written history will be preserved in a book, so that future generations will understand who stepped forward to preserve the building, White said.
The entire capital project is expected to cost between $800,000 and $1 million. The project will be completed in four phases and will unfold as enough money is raised for each phase.
The first phase includes adding a wheelchair-accessible ramp, adding wheelchair-accessible bathrooms to the building and taking down a wall on the first floor of the building that separates the library from the former space of the bank.
The space will be used to create a separate room for childrens’ books, an activity room with a kitchenette and a conference table to be used for children’s projects, board meetings and community events, and an office that the library plans to rent to a business to bring in $3,600 to $4,000 a year in additional revenue per year, White said.
There is now a “For Rent” sign in the window of the office, and White said she hopes to find a tenant this summer.
The library was first built as a gift to Marathon. The trustees of Peck’s were bankers, and they decided to include a bank in the structure of the building to help fund the library, White said.
The second phase includes renovations to the building’s brick exterior.
The third phase includes repairing the library’s stained glass windows. Two of the windows were repaired using a $5,000 state grant secured by Assemblyman Gary Finch (R-Springport) in 2006 and $1,000 that the library raised, White said.
These windows will be displayed near the library’s entrance on Saturday.
White said workers will also renovate stained glass windows that are believed to be on the third floor of the library but have been covered up with boards.
In the fourth phase, the library board hopes to restore the old opera house on the second floor and let the community use the room for groups such as Boy Scouts and Brownies or to host quilt shows, White said.
She added that it could be used to host entertainment acts, much like the Center For the Arts in Homer.
“We really want to first serve our community, and if we’re able to have some entertainment ... it’s endless what you can do here,” White said.
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