Stockbridge Library renovation moves ahead

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STOCKBRIDGE >> The first major renovation of the historic Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives since 1937 is moving ahead, now that Allegrone Construction Co. of Pittsfield has been awarded the $2.5 million contract for the project.

"Work is officially under way," said library director Katie O'Neil. A capital campaign for the massive reconstruction has raised more than half of its $3.2 million goal, she told The Eagle.

The library, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in August, is awaiting a decision from the state on its application for historic renovation tax credits, which could yield as much as $500,000 for qualified restoration expenses. The private fundraising campaign was led by a $250,000 gift from the Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick Trust.

Allegrone, with a long history of historic site renovations such as the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, was awarded the contract as the low bidder for the project, which was designed by Centerline Architects & Planners of Bennington, Vt.

The 10- to 12-month construction calendar is expected to create close to 100 jobs, said O'Neil.

The library is on target to reopen about a year from now, she noted.

Actual construction is expected to conclude in August, but several months will be needed for finishing touches and to return parts of the collection being accommodated at the two temporary locations.

While work is underway, much of the library's collection is in storage off-site, while many artifacts are protected in cordoned-off areas.

When it reopens, the library will add nearly 2,500 square feet of reconfigured space for patrons, a 20 percent increase, as well as new technology, compliance with current building codes and universal access with the addition of an elevator.

Other enhancements include private study and activity spaces, a multipurpose room, additional bathrooms, and a revamped rear entrance.

New programs will be added, such as film screenings, writing workshops, financial seminars, educational programming, distance learning and book groups.

However, the historic facade of the building will be unaltered.

According to Archives and Museum Curator Barbara Allen, the renovation "preserves the Stockbridge spirit for future generations." The library is home to one of the most extensive regional Native American history archives and also contains 504 volumes by local authors.

As the capital campaign launched last November continues, TD Bank has granted temporary financing for cash-flow purposes, O'Neil added.

A portion of the Main Street library's collection is housed in temporary quarters at the Stockbridge Train Station on Depot Street. Hours are Tuesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The station includes new and recent additions to the collection, as well as children's classics, most of the DVD and audio material, broadband Internet access for the public and periodical subscriptions.

The Museum & Archives collection is installed at the Merwin House, 14 Main St., open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by appointment at 413-298-4703.

Inevitably, the limited selection available at the Stockbridge Station has reduced patronage somewhat, O'Neil acknowledged.

But the children's library has gained attendance for its story time offerings because it's easier to park there, she added. Access to the C/W Mars online network for interlibrary loans remains available at the temporary site. Additional details on the project are available at www.stockbridgelibrary.org.

Call Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551. On Twitter: @BE_cfanto


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