Parker Hill Library to close for a year

May 5, 2017
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The Parker Hill Branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL) on July 1 will close for a year to undergo a $2.4 million renovation that consists mostly of repairs and improvements.

The library was originally supposed to close June 1, but after pushback from the community, including over wanting it open through the school year, it was pushed back, according to Eamon Shelton, BPL director of operations. When asked about the community outreach, he said that he thinks “it would have been better if there was more notice” about the project.

BPL will host a meeting on May 17 at 6 p.m. at the library to discuss the project.

Shelton said the renovations include waterproofing the infrastructure of the building; repointing, and in some cases replacing, the masonry; interior plaster repairs; interior painting; and replacing all of the windows, which are original. He said the year timeline includes breaking the library down and moving all the books and repeating the process when the construction has ended. The timeline also factors in any unforeseen obstacles. Shelton said it is possible the library reopens before the year timeline.

When asked if the project could have been done piecemeal with the library remaining open, Shelton said that it was considered, but closing the library was deemed the most effective way to get the project done as quickly as possible.

When asked what will happen to the programs currently at the Parker Hill Branch, Shelton replied that BPL is “working on that now” and suggested some will go to the Dudley Branch Library.

The Parker Hill Branch began in 1907 as a small reading room at a storefront at 1518 Tremont St. It became an official BPL branch in 1924 and moved to its present location at 1497 Tremont St. when Mayor James Michael Curley opened the building in 1931.

The 10,200-square-foot, two-story Gothic building was designed by the famed architect Ralph Adams Cram.

The library was closed for a year in 2005 to undergo a renovation, including installing a ramp and elevator, to make the building handicap accessible. A few years before that, the Friends of Historic Mission Hill filed a petition with the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) to landmark the building. The BLC voted unanimously to accept the petition, which is still pending. That requires any work to be done on the building be approved by the BLC. Shelton said that the BLC recently approved the proposed renovation project.

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