Hill History: Renovation of historic Parker Hill library on schedule

February 2, 2018
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The renovation of the Parker Hill Branch Library building, which opened in 1931, is on track and on schedule, according to Boston Public Library spokesperson Rosemary Lavery.

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 and is now undergoing a $2.4 million renovation.

“[The renovation] is addressing a series of façade and exterior problems to prevent future leaks at the branch,” Lavery said in an email. “The project also includes interior painting, plaster repairs, masonry repairs, and window replacement.”

She said the workers have not encountered any problems during the renovation thus far. The library closed July 1 for the expected yearlong renovation. Lavery said no date has been set yet for the library building to reopen.

Lavery said that the Parker Hill librarians have said that the relocation of the library’s programming is “going well” and gave an update on several of them:

–The monthly book group has retained all of its members, and even gained a new member at the end of 2017. Between 8-10 people show up for each discussion, and several group participants have expressed their gratitude to the branch librarian at being able to keep the group going during closure. Some call it the highlight of their month.

–Yoga for Older Adults continues at the Tobin, every other month through May. Attendance varies, from 2-10 people weekly. The branch librarian arranged to bring an additional weekly yoga program to Landmark at Longwood Senior Living Facility for the month of February.

–The branch librarian and children’s librarian arranged a monthly materials delivery to Mission Hill for the pop-up library, and are able to have a rotating selection of books and DVDs in addition to being able to take returns. The DVDs in particular have been a popular item. They offered a holiday craft in December, which was well-received.

–The afterschool Homework Help on Tuesdays/Thursdays has been going well. They have an average 6-10 kids attending to use the laptops and do homework.

For more information about the program, visit bit.ly/2FughGA.

It is the second time the library has closed for a renovation in the past 15 years. The library was closed for a year in 2005 to undergo a renovation that included 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.