Stockbridge Library set to reopen April 30 after $4 million renovation

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Photo Gallery | Stockbridge Library nearing completion

STOCKBRIDGE — The end is in sight for the mammoth $4 million project at the historic Stockbridge Library and its Museum & Archives.

The nearly completed renovation has gained its certificate of occupancy, Library Director Katie O'Neil said on Tuesday. A reopening date of April 30 has been set for the Main Street landmark built in 1864, with the main reading room in the Bement Wing added in 1937.

Just over $3.8 million has been raised toward the library's campaign goal of $4 million, O'Neil said. About $3 million was contributed privately.

The reopening was originally set for last October and then pushed back to December. "In the grand scheme of things, a six-month delay is not too big," O'Neil said.

"When you open up an old building, you're never sure what you're going to find," she said. Unanticipated add-ons to the original project included foundation repair, attic stabilization for a new roof, and updates to the fire protection system. Actual construction costs totaled $3.5 million, O'Neil noted, with another $500,000 in project-related "soft" expenses.

The project was handled by contractor Allegrone Construction.

Still to be completed prior to reopening: Installation of shelving and furniture, setting up new museum exhibit spaces, and the return of collections from the temporary library at Stockbridge Station and the temporary museum locale at Merwin House (14 Main St.). That display will close to the public as of 2 p.m. Saturday.

"If you haven't already visited our exhibit there, this will be your last chance to catch a glimpse of some of our historical collection items next to the exquisite furnishings of Merwin House," O'Neil said.

The makeshift library at the former train station closes after March 31. The library staff will spend April relocating the collection to 46 Main St. and preparing for the reopening, so there will be no library access until April 30.

The state has kicked in $600,000 through a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant designated for handicap-accessibility, resolution of mechanical and structural code issues, and the development of underutilized space for better display and preservation of the historical collection.

Also received was $500,000 in Massachusetts State Historic Tax Credits. Under that program, the nonprofit library received a certificate, which is sold to for-profit entities that can use it.

Town funding through the Community Preservation Act has totaled $150,000 so far, with another $50,000 requested for voter approval at the annual town meeting in May. Voters also approved $100,000 for installation of an elevator last May.

Last June, the library 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 was 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.

At the end of 2014, 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.

Among the library's scheduled programs this month is a tribute to the late Eagle columnist, poet, author and educator Michelle Gillett with readings by members of her writing workshop. The event at 4 p.m. March 13, at 4 p.m. will be in the Jonathan Edwards Room of the First Congregational Church at 4 Main St.

The workshop offers "community, inspiration and guidance to writers as they develop their voices and writing," according to an announcement from the library. "A number of participating members have completed projects and published books; others have been experimenting, accruing, and continuing."

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.

More information ...

www.stockbridgelibrary.com, on Facebook (Stockbridge-Library-Association), or 413-298-5501.


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