Stockbridge Library leaders $350,000 short of renovation goal

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STOCKBRIDGE — The $3.6 million fundraising campaign for the renovation of the 1864 Stockbridge Library and Museum is in the home stretch, with $350,000 remaining to reach the goal.

Library leaders have launched "Close the Gap," the community phase of the campaign to reach full-time residents, second-homeowners and area visitors. The project is the library's first significant renovation since 1937.

The community fund drive finale will run through Labor Day and includes a direct-mail campaign to seek donations from residents. Gifts are also being accepted online at www.stockbridgelibrary.org.

The library also has announced its largest single one-time private gift — a total of $500,000 from Mary Stokes Waller and her sister, Carol Fremont-Smith — to name the library's historic collection as The Procter Museum of Stockbridge History and Archives.

The gift is in memory of their late mother, Hope Procter Stokes, who was active in town affairs, said museum curator Barbara Allen. The sisters are great-great-granddaughters of Procter & Gamble founder William Procter, and great-granddaughters of Anson Phelps Stokes, who built and lived at the Shadowbrook Estate, now the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness.

"Both sisters care very much about Stockbridge history, which is why they're giving this donation to protect, preserve and promote what we do in keeping that history alive," Allen said.

Beatrice Sterling Procter "put together Procter Hall, the former town offices," Mary Stokes Waller said. "She was adamant that the building be saved and used appropriately."

After their mother died, the sisters donated $500,000 in her name to the Procter Hall renovation effort.

"We fought long and hard to get that done," Stokes Waller said. "Alas, we tried and tried but it was just not going to happen."

After the town returned the gift, the sisters redirected it to the library and museum renovation.

"Both my mother, Hope Stokes, and grandmother Beatrice Procter were very interested in the historic aspect and giving to the library's historical room," Stokes Waller said. "So we decided that since the money was going to come back, that's where it should go. We want to make sure the museum continues and perpetuates in the proper fashion."

"The gift is a fitting way to launch this phase of the campaign," said Stockbridge Library Director Katie O'Neil. "We've had a tremendous response and wonderful support from the community. I couldn't be happier, we're on track and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to our new space in the fall."

The project by Allegrone Construction is targeted for completion in time to reopen the library by the first week of December, just before the annual Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas celebration.

On July 11, the annual book sale will be held on the library's lawn, allowing visitors to "get up close and personal with current construction," said campaign coordinator Sarah Tanner.

State funding has totaled $1.1 million — led by the $600,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Facilities Fund announced in March. The funds are designated for handicap-accessibility, resolution of mechanical and structural code issues, and the development of underutilized space to better display and preserve the library's historical collection.

The library also was awarded $500,000 in Massachusetts State Historic Tax Credits. Under that program, the nonprofit library, which pays no taxes, will receive a $500,000 certificate from the state. The certificate will be sold to a for-profit entity that can use it.

The citizens of Stockbridge have contributed $150,000 in Community Preservation Act funds, approved by annual town meeting voters over four years. The town also is contributing $100,000 for the installation of an elevator, as voted by the town meeting last month.

According to O'Neil, the renovation "will expand our accessibility to everyone, upgrade our technology, and preserve the library, Museum & Archives as a vital community center and keeper of our rich shared history."

At the end of last year, the project gained a $250,000 gift from the Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick Trust, the same amount that the trust representing the late owners of the Red Lion Inn and Country Curtains donated in 2013.

Additional grants of $10,000 each came from the Berkshire Bank Foundation and from the Frelinghuysen Foundation.

Until the library reopens, portions of the collection, including new material, are available for loan at the Stockbridge Train Station, 2 Depot St. Museum archives are at the Merwin House, 14 Main St. and can be viewed on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.

Information: 413-298-5501.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.


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