Deep Dive: Cazenovia Public Library

Visit Cazenovia Public Library to see the Mummy, pet the cat, view the antiquities, and check out this beautiful architectural gem in the heart of Cazenovia.

Cazenovia Public Library has been an integral part of the Village of Cazenovia since the 1890’s. The Library was housed in John William’s 1830 Greek Revival House on Albany Street, which was donated by Mr. Robert J. Hubbard. The Library provided vital services, such as literacy assistance, community activities, as well as lending of the collection, in this facility for many generations. In the early 1990’s, however, it became apparent that the services provided had outgrown the existing infrastructure. The Library Board decided to look at options to better serve the current needs of the community. There was a strong determination to retain the glorious existing building, but the concern was, how can the facility expand, while respecting and honoring its past?

Robert L. Kent worked closely with the library team to study the options. In an early planning meeting, Bob Kent (with junior draftsman Dan in tow) went to review the existing conditions. What they found was an historic structure that was, quite literally, bursting at the seams. Book shelves had been installed in every conceivable location. Cupboards and even the original fireplace fireboxes were filled to the brim with books. Data cables had been strung along floors, ceilings, and through the chimneys. All of this chaos and clutter was degrading the old building and deteriorating the facility in general.

The decision was made to expand the facility to the south, allowing the historic Greek Revival building to remain the focus on Albany Street, while permitting the construction of a fully accessible, large, modern, two story building that would be the primary location of the Library functions. This new addition was connected to the historic building with a fire-protected “Gallery Link” that allowed the new building to be set off from the old, while allowing direct connection back to the original structure. This link also allows a “air-lock” space that can be used for local art exhibitions.

By building the two story addition to take the bulk of the functions, the original building was allowed to “quiet down” and be reprogrammed as a series of museum, study, and quiet reading areas. This function allows the beauty of the antique architecture to be maintained and celebrated. In this way the Library gets the “best of both worlds”, it retains its historic roots, and can provide for the contemporary needs of a thriving community library.

In addition to the main circulation and stacks areas, the new addition includes an archival area on the lower level, as well as a vault for local historical materials. A large community room on the lower level was completed a few years after the opening of the library. This room provides a wide variety of community services, including, community lecture series, youth activities, and meeting space for community groups.

The new addition was opened in 1996 making it, astonishingly, more than a quarter of a century old! Cazenovia Public Library continues to grow, and expand their services, as well as remaining one of the most important facilities in the Village of Cazenovia. Teitsch-Kent-Fay Architects, P.C. is proud to have been able to assist the Library, and looks forward to continuing our association for many years to come.

As well as the major addition project, we have been fortunate to assist Cazenovia Public Library, our neighbor and friend, with a number of projects over the years, including the rehabilitation of the Barn Building into a Bookstore facility, and excavation at the lower level to create study spaces. In addition we have also assisted with historic restoration of the Albany Street columns of the original building.

Teitsch-Kent-Fay Architects, P.C. is currently assisting Cazenovia Library with a roofing project at both their original building and the library addition. Brian Manning has been meeting with the Library Administration to coordinate a survey of the existing conditions, and will then be developing documents for the rehabilitation of these roofs. This work will help ensure the Library can continue to provide its wonderful services to the Cazenovia community for many years to come.

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