September 29, 2009
Library gets face-lift as windows restored
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Connie White looks over the refurbished stained glass windows Monday. The windows were recently reinstalled in the attic of Peck Memorial Library on Main Street in Marathon.
MARATHON — After being hidden by plaster boards for decades, two recently restored stained glass windows are back on the east and west sides of Peck Memorial Library.
The windows were placed on window sills in the attic of the building last week as part of the library’s capital project to restore and modernize the building. New light bulbs and electrical wiring that will be used to light up the windows at night were also installed in the attic last week.
“At night, they’re going to be gorgeous. It’s like the crown jewels of this building,” White said of the stained glass windows in the building that was constructed in 1894.
Connie White, co-chair of the library’s capital campaign, hopes that eventually nine more stained glass windows can be restored and placed back on the building.
The other nine stained glass windows were recently removed from the building and are being stored in the library. They were covered up by plaster boards, most likely in the 1980s, after becoming damaged, White said. The windows were later removed and put in storage.
Restoring the windows is part of a broader effort to bring the building back to close to its original form.
Renovations being made on the library’s first floor are in the final stages, and White expects the work to be finished by November.
The library was built in 1895 after Mercena Brink Peck donated $20,000 in her will for the community to develop a free and public library.
The library’s campaign committee has spent $350,000 so far on the renovation project, which is expected to cost $800,000 to $1 million when completed, said White. The light bulbs and electrical wiring for the stained glass windows cost $1,600, she said. Funding for the project has come from state grants and donations.
In the entranceway to the library, a new tile floor was installed last week to achieve a traditional Victorian look, White said.
The work already completed includes the addition of new steps in the front of the building, wheelchair-accessible ramps at two entrances and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.
The library is also expanding to create space for more people and computers.
Construction workers will soon take down a wall on the first floor of the building that separated the library from the former location of Alliance Bank.
The former bank’s space is being used to create a separate room for children’s books, an activity room with a kitchenette and a conference table for community events, and an office space that the library plans to rent to a business as an additional revenue source.
Mary Frank, a librarian at Peck Memorial Library, said the library needs more space, especially for special activities, such as a Halloween event that drew 149 people two years ago.
The expansion will also create space for four new computers, increasing the total to nine, Frank said.
The campaign organizers will complete other phases of the project before restoring the other nine stained glass windows, unless people give donations specifically for the windows, White said.
The project’s next phase will most likely be to repair brick on the building’s exterior, and refurbish or replace other windows. Later, the former opera house on the second floor will have its floors and ceilings replaced, and heating and electricity installed.
The floor of the office rental space was carpeted on Friday. White said she will soon begin using it as a reception room, where she can meet with residents and teach them about the library and its history. White hopes that furnishing and making use of the room will help to attract potential tenants.
“This (library) is the best or finest gift that the people of Marathon have ever received,” White said.
“I think a library enhances a community ... Here’s a common ground where people can meet and share their interests,” she added.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe