“The offer is on the table,” Holden said. “Even if they end up voting against it I prefer to have them come here.”
Built in 1852 thanks to a donation from the city’s favorite son, George Peabody, the library is considered one of the Peabody’s most beautiful buildings. But Holden went from floor to floor showing its shortcomings, including leaky windows and poor air circulation. Ironically, some of those problems are worse in the library’s addition, built in the 1970s.
Also of concern is the humidity in the Sutton Room, the grand heart of the building, with ornate moldings and a parquet floor added in 1905. An earlier effort to preserve these features by establishing climate control in the room failed to achieve its aim and more work is needed.
“We didn’t get what we expected here,” Holden lamented.
The size of the investment makes it mandatory under federal law that the library will have to spend an additional and substantial sum bringing it up to Americans with Disability Act standards. Holden pointed out that disabled patrons do complain about difficulties entering the building.
“We shouldn’t be worried about being mandated to meet those standards,” said Manning-Martin.
“It’s a good amount of money,” conceded Osborne, “but it’s money well spent.”
The council has voted in favor of advertising the work, but with the proviso that the request could be cut or eliminated.
The finance subcommittee is scheduled to take up the request at a meeting on Thursday.