A quest to find plans to assist architects in fixing an area of soft plaster in the 100-year-old Livingston County Library building produced not only papers from the recent 2008 remodel and blueprints for the building’s 1965 remodel, but the original plans for the building dating back to the early 1900s.
A quest to find plans to assist architects in fixing an area of soft plaster in the 100-year-old Livingston County Library building produced not only papers from the recent 2008 remodel and blueprints for the building’s 1965 remodel, but the original plans for the building dating back to the early 1900s. Kirsten Mouton, who takes care of the library’s archives and genealogical research, writes about her recent discovery in her blog “CARDIGANS, CATS, & CAFFEINE” on the Constitution-Tribune’s website: http://ow.ly/GoSe308P6GG. In her article, “The Best Laid Plans Don’t Always Go Awry,” Mouton writes: “We have an area of soft plaster in our ‘court room’ on the second floor. To combat this, we contacted Strata Architecture & Preservation of Kansas City to help us repair and restore this spot. Claire Ashbrook (formerly of and Trudy Faulkner from Strata assessed our entire building recently. Good news: we are in pretty good shape for a 100-year-old structure! “Our plot of land started out (here’s the fun part where I digress) as a marble shop and warehouse (1885); a second hand store, barber shop, the Marcum Hotel, flour and feed, and a mule corral (1890 and 1896); a barber shop, saloon, and F. E. Fullerton Feed (1901). The 1909 map shows most of these buildings vacant except a lunch room and barber shop and that all were slated to be demolished. I believe plans were already in the works for a new federal building and post office at this location. “In 1915 a large basement was dug out, then steel beams and cement blocks laid to form the beautiful (if I may say so) Post Office. And thus it stayed until 1965 when the post office decided it needed a new building again. Library folks (such as George Somerville) got wind of this opportunity and managed to obtain title to the building in the name of Mrs. Raymond Russell, President of the Library Board. By 1966, the remodel was done and the Library opened in its new location on Nov 13, 1966. We recently celebrated that 50-year milestone. “The building has undergone a few changes since then. In the late 1970s, under Director Lillian Desmarias, more remodeling work was undertaken, such as adding the ramp to the north entrance and an elevator in the northeast corner of the building. She also turned the basement into a children's department despite some state level people telling her it couldn't be done; story is, she knew masonry and laid many of those bricks herself! A large-scale remodel also occurred in 2008, touching every floor and gutting some areas completely. There certainly may have been other remodels I am unaware of as well. “As part of their investigation into the cause of the plaster damage in the court room (back to that story), Ms. Ashbrook and Ms. Faulkner asked to see the plans for the library. I really didn't know what we had. We explored the top drawer of a file cabinet in the archive room that I knew had rolled up maps in it; turns out we have a lot of maps of Edgewood Cemetery. I took a peek in the archive closet, a wonderful place of dimly lit mystery that was originally a massive federal safe. Up in the corner, out of reach, I noticed a couple of boxes with rolled up papers inside. I got a stool and hopped up. Ms. Faulkner came over to assist and I handed down the very light-weight boxes. Inside were blueprints from the 1965 remodel! What a treasure! The edges were a bit brittle, but the rest looked in pretty good condition. I returned to the closet and noticed that under these boxes was a clear plastic tub with more rolled up white papers. I fished all of them out: the 2008 remodel! These papers were in great shape, being only about 8 or 9 years old. I remember saying out loud, “How I’d love to find the original plans!’ And so I looked back in the tub and noticed some smaller, brown rolled up papers. Gingerly, I pulled a bundle out. We carefully laid it out on the floor. They were here all along! (Well, of course they were. We've always had people who cared about our town's history so it makes sense these were preserved.) How many times have I gone into that archive closet and never noticed them? (Many.) (In my defense, there are a lot of things in that closet!) We looked at several of the maps and figuratively drooled. (We couldn't really drool or we might have damaged the plans!) The preservation team from Strata took all our wonderful finds back with them to study roof drains and the like and will digitize them for us. The originals will be returned along with some instructions as to how to properly care for them (not in a plastic tub). Our archive (and genealogy) room is climate controlled and the closet is dark so that goes a long way in preserving fragile, old items. Be on the lookout in the near future for a large framed copy of the plans on display! We are still very excited (read ‘giddy’) to see these!”