Saturday, September 3, 2016

Celebrating the Haish Memorial Library restoration

Dee Coover, executive director of the DeKalb Public Library, speaks during the "Grander Opening" of the Haish Memorial Library on Sept. 10 in DeKalb. The event celebrated the restoration of the historic building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Jacob Haish's monetary donation for a city library in the early 1900s was a big deal at the time, says Dee Coover, executive director of the DeKalb Public Library. 

"The library was dedicated in 1931, it was being built during the Great Depression," Coover said. "It was almost unheard of at the time. That could not have been done without his donation."

Haish had left $150,000 in his will for DeKalb to have a building for a library. Before that, the library had held odd spaces in other locations, such as the second floor of the city hall building. 

With Haish's major donation, a building was erected on Oak Street, and it served the community for decades. In recent years, however, issues came to light, such as the need for an updated HVAC system, and the fact that the building was not handicap-accessible.The community had also outgrown the 19,000 square foot building, so the library built a modern addition to add space.
The exterior wall and entrance to the Haish Memorial Library is seen from the lobby of the DeKalb Public Library on Sept. 10. Hundreds of people attended the dedication ceremony for the buildings. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The former exterior wall of the Haish Memorial Library is now inside of the newly expanded DeKalb Public Library. It was cleaned up as part of the building's restoration efforts. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Instead of razing the Haish Memorial Library building, it was restored and now features a variety of services, including a teen room, computer lab, 3D printers, and the fitting "local history room." The completion of both the Haish building restoration project and the brand new, 65,000 square foot addition were celebrated Sept. 10.

Coover said it was important to keep "the ambience of 1930," after all, the Haish building is featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cork flooring was added to the Haish Memorial Library to pay homage to the original flooring in the building in the early 1930s. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The sign denoting the Haish Memorial Library as a historic building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The teen room in the Haish building features, books, TVs and even video game consoles. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Library patrons learn about the three 3D printers that are now housed in the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Preservation and restoration efforts included installing cork flooring similar to the floor in the original building. The DeKalb Public Library's main lobby, which connects the Haish building and the new addition, shows off the exterior wall of the Haish building, with a large doorway added for entering the Haish building. 

"This wall is just stunning," Coover said while pointing at a wall of the Haish building, which is now part of the library's main entryway. "The entire thing was cleaned up with baking soda, and now it's inside. It's beautiful."
Members of city government and the library, as well as major donors to the expansion project, gather for the ribbon cutting at the entrance of the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Community members hold up a "Proudly DeKalb" sign during the dedication ceremony for the newly restored Haish Memorial Library building on Sept. 10. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Contractors worked to keep "the ambience of 1930" in the Haish building, said library executive director Dee Coover. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
Details of the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The original desk is still featured in the Haish Memorial Library. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The Haish Memorial Library was the appropriate building to house the local history room, said Steve Bigolin, local historian and library employee. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The local history room features regional books and resources. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
For more information on the history of the library, click here. For more information on the library's new addition, as well as the Haish building restoration project, click here.
The enscription "This building is the gift of Jacob Haish to the City of DeKalb," can still be found in the original entryway of the Haish Memorial Library building. | Photo by Jessi LaRue
The original entrance to the Haish Memorial Library is now closed off. The art deco building was designed by Chicago architects White and Weber. | Photo by Jessi LaRue

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