Chatfield Public Library is under renovation

Librarian Monica Erickson sits on the newly renovated stairs of Chatfield Library.
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It all started on February 15, 1911 when Chatfield-based Medora Morrill proposed to the Commercial Club that they open a public library in Chatfield in the public rest room. She was given the go-ahead to form a committee that would collect 1,000 donated books so that less than a month later, on March 9, 1911, the library could be opened to the public. Just two years later, Chatfield City Council formed a library council that realized that the library was growing so rapidly that it needed a permanent, dedicated building. An Andrew Carnegie grant of $ 6,000 was applied for and received to build the new library, and Chatfield’s Carnegie Library was officially opened on February 15, 1915.

1997-98 the library was renovated for the first time and a new entrance with elevator was built to make the library ADA-compliant. The library was doubled by an extension and a large conference room was created in the basement.

The Chatfield Public Library at the time it was built.
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Now the Chatfield library has been renovated again. Senior Librarian Monica Erickson recalls speaking to Claude Moore at the foot of the stairs in the library entrance a few years ago. Moore had helped with the addition in 1997-98 and created woodwork to seamlessly connect the original part of the building to the new section. “He said something like, ‘You know … those stairs would look great with a wooden balustrade,'” Erickson explained. “This was the seed for the idea.” After the renovation work from 1997-98, she always felt somehow strange because she described the entrance as sterile. “It was the first thing you saw when you walked into the library and it in no way reflected the Craftsman / Prairie School character of our original Carnegie library building,” she said.

Erickson presented to the Library Council the idea of ​​renovating the library to match the original look that it was considering and initiating discussions on the matter. Historian Robert Vogel encouraged the board to meet with Christian Hendrie from IIW, PC, an architect who is well versed in maintaining the historical integrity of old buildings while meeting modern demands. “He was exactly the person we needed!” Said Erickson.

As it had been 22 years since the last renovation, other things in the library had to be updated or renewed, such as doing the other projects at the same time. The project was funded by donations of all sizes that had flowed to the library over the years.

The Chatfield Public Library now.
Photo submitted

The renovation work began in early March 2020 with Hendrie as the architect and project manager and Benike Construction as the general contractor. The original plan was to keep the library open for most, if not all, of the project, but on March 17th the library was closed due to the pandemic. That turned out to be good because it made the project easier for the work team and library staff. Furniture had to be rearranged several times so that work could continue and books were taken from the shelves and temporarily stacked. “I can’t imagine being open and served under such conditions!” Said Erickson. “So if we had to have a pandemic, at least it came at a time that was beneficial to our renovation.” However, the pandemic presented some unique challenges, such as: B. longer delivery times for some items and delayed work due to quarantines.

With the reopening of the library on September 1, 2020, most of the project was completed. The renovation work included remodeling both bathrooms, new carpet on the upper floor and on the ground floor, freshly painted walls throughout the library, removal of the heating on the ground floor, new exterior and entrance lighting and a new front door along with a new handicapped accessible door opener and push plates. In the original part of the library, the reading room, new LED lights in the style of the era were installed and a bookshelf was converted and placed in its original place in the room.

Erickson is very pleased with the renovation work. “By adding the artisan style to our entrance, people will immediately know that they have just entered a building whose caretakers respect and value its historical integrity,” she said, explaining that the goal was for the renovated entrance the original part from 1915 was added to the library. “I’ve always loved imagining what the original library might have looked like in 1915. It’s exciting to see some of what I envisioned become a reality! ”She is also delighted that the steps to restore the Carnegie Library’s historical identity with the new LED lighting also put the library’s green footprint into place have increased.

Library users also appreciate the changes. “‘It is wonderful!’ is a comment we often heard when we first opened the library to the public after the COVID-19 shutdown, “said Erickson.” We still hear this comment from those in transit or at are visiting for the first time. Personally, I think Andrew Carnegie would agree. “

You can find out more about the Chatfield Public Library including its opening times below. Experienced or by phone at (507) 867-3480.

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