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  • Tom Jackson

Library Carrying Out Major Renovation

SANDUSKY – Construction that’s expected to last for months is giving Sandusky Library its first big renovation since the library’s big expansion project completed in 2004.

Work on the library and on the library’s Follett House Museum is costing about $1.8 million. About half that amount is being covered by library capital funds. Local foundations, meanwhile, are covering the other half.

It should be the last major renovation work that has to be done for many years, said Molly Carver, executive director of Sandusky Library.

While the work will restore the appearance of the buildings — and will let viewers see what Carnegie Library looked like when it was finished in 1901 — the main point of the work is to leave the library in good shape for a long time, said Aaron Spencer, foreman for the project for the main contractor, Coon Restoration & Sealants Inc, of Louisville, Ohio, near Canton.

Coon is well-known for its masonry restoration work. Spencer worked on a project to restore the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay.

The library's work aims to restore the library as authentically as possible, including using building materials that fit what was used in the original construction.

That can be complicated because the restoration work is being carried out on what are really four different buildings.

The Sandusky Library actually consists of three different structures:
• The original Carnegie Library, which was completed in 1901
• The old Erie County Jail, dating to 1883, which the library bought in 1996 as part of its expansion
• And the new addition, completed in 2004

The Follett House Museum is a period mansion at 404 Wayne St., a short walk from the library. It was built in the 1830s.

The mortar used for Follett House Museum is different from the mortar used in the Carnegie Library. The aim is to use the same kind of mortar originally used in each wall, with a color that matches the original.

Work on the project began last year when ivy was removed from the walls of the original Carnegie Library building. The building was then washed.

People watching the work have often asked if the ivy will be allowed to grow back on the walls, Spencer said. It will not. The ivy is supposed to be gone for good.
Actual construction began this March and is scheduled to run through September, weather and other possible factors permitting.

At the Sandusky Library, Coon workers have been removing the old mortar and replacing it with new mortar.
Other work will include demolishing two chimneys in the old jail building and replacing them, and replacing cornices along the edge of the jail roof.

At the Follett House, the railings on the front porch are being restored, work is being done on the walls, and a window is being replaced.

As the work has proceeded, the library has had to give presentations to the city of Sandusky’s landmark commission, which wants to be assured the restoration is authentic. The commission seems to be happy, Carver said.

The local foundations that contributed funding for the work are the Erie County Community Foundation, the Frohman Foundation, the Mylander Foundation, the Sandusky Library & Follett House Museum Foundation and the Wightman-Wieber Foundation.

Back in 2016, the library began its investigation of the exterior of its buildings, hiring Frost Building Maintenance Inc., of Cleveland, a restoration company, to carry out a study and provide a rough cost estimate, Carver said. HBM, a Cleveland architectural firm specializing in libraries that carried out Sandusky Library’s expansion, was then hired to provide the specifications, Carver said.

Check out the original article by Tom Jackson.
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