Renee Deierling attaches crystals to the reclaimed era chandelier Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Renee Deierling attaches crystals to the reclaimed era chandelier Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Restored Carnegie library in Snohomish is nearing a debut

The $2.7 million project modernized the 110-year-old building and preserved historic details.

SNOHOMISH — More than 110 years since construction and nearly two decades since renovation discussions began, the Snohomish Carnegie Library is almost ready to reveal its facelift.

The $2.7 million restoration was funded by state grants and the city of Snohomish for improvements to join modern times and preserve the vintage details of the historic building.

The sturdy wooden entryway resembles the authentic state, but the energy-efficient heating and cooling system and LED lighting are fit for the 21st century. A 90-inch flat-screen TV hangs on the wall between two of the large, wavy glass windows and their original wood frames from 1910.

An outdoor elevator opens the building to a new audience. Before the renovation, the split-level library was inaccessible for the mobility-impaired.

“The reality is, when you open this building up, everyone expects a totally modern building,” said Steve Schuller, Snohomish city administrator. “We do not live like we did 50 years ago.”

Built at 105 Cedar Ave., the library was paid for by a grant from Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic foundation and served as the city’s main library until 2003. It was one of 1,687 public libraries built across the country with help from the steel magnate. Roughly 800 are still in use as public libraries. More than 300 others, such as the Snohomish building, are used for other purposes, such as offices, and community and cultural centers.

Julie Davis (left), Candice Jarrett (center) and Christine Edwards clean crystals for the reclaimed era chandelier Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Julie Davis (left), Candice Jarrett (center) and Christine Edwards clean crystals for the reclaimed era chandelier Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

After its life as a library, the Snohomish Carnegie building was used as a community space for special events before closing in 2017. The next year, the Snohomish City Council voted to restore it.

To find a balance between past and present, the city enlisted help from the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation, a nonprofit formed in the early 2000s in support of preserving the library for community use.

Melody Clemons, 76, is a founding member and the president of the foundation.

Clemons, a lifelong Snohomish resident, said she wanted to give a second life to a place that gave her so many fond memories.

“If you’ve been in this town, you have a long history,” she said. “It was my father’s public library, it was mine and my families’.”

Crystals are sorted Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Crystals are sorted Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Twenty years later, Clemons said she and the dozen or so foundation volunteers pinch themselves to believe the work is almost complete.

Several times a week, Clemons said, she walks to the corner of Cedar Avenue and First Street to admire the accomplishment. She said it brings tears to her eyes.

“I’ve never seen anything so grand in our town,” she said. “It just stands out.”

On the exterior, a fresh coat of butterscotch yellow paint highlights the building’s original tile work uncovered in the repairs. The century-old slabs were repaired and are now visible on all sides of the building, including four distinct printer’s marks above the entrance.

The cherry on top of the renovation is an imposing, 7-foot crystal chandelier. Made around 1915 of more than 1,000 Czechoslovakian leaded crystals, the opulent ornament originally hung in the Everett Carnegie Library on Oakes Avenue.

Since the 1930s, the chandelier hung in a number of area funeral homes. It was donated to the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation in 2018.

On Friday evening, eight volunteers from the nonprofit carefully unboxed and cleaned the 100-year-old crystals.

Renee Deierling attaches crystals to the reclaimed era chandelier Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Renee Deierling attaches crystals to the reclaimed era chandelier Friday afternoon at the Carnegie Library in Snohomish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Strands were held together by brittle wire. Others dangled in small sets of two or three.

Using toothbrushes and a special solution, they scrubbed the dust off the reflective rocks before adding them one by one to the chandelier frame.

Light from the setting sun crept in through the windows, catching the crystals and giving a glimpse of the chandelier’s full beauty.

As the hours passed, the volunteers swapped stories of years past in Snohomish. Some went to high school together and shared memories of old friends, others traded tales of the lost books from the old Carnegie library and the kind librarian who would grant forgiveness.

“Snohomish was so small, the world existed inside this library,” Mac Bates said.

The building’s one other previous addition, an annex built in 1968, was toppled last February.

In coming years, the city and the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation plan to build a park on the land where the annex once stood. Among the trees, bushes and benches, there are plans for a veterans memorial.

The city hopes to open the building for tours and events in May. More information will be available soon on the city’s website.

“It is exactly what is meant to be, that building,” Clemons said. “When you see it, you see it in 1910 in all of its glory and grandeur.”

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011, at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. After more than half a century, Boeing is rolling its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing’s last 747 to roll off the Everett assembly line

The Queen of the Skies was dethroned by smaller, more fuel-efficient jets. The last 747s were built for a cargo carrier.

PUD workers install new transformers along 132nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Electric vehicles spur big forecast jump for PUD demand

Not long ago, the Snohomish County PUD projected 50,000 electric cars registered in the county by 2040. Now it expects up to 660,000.

Traffic moves northbound on I-5 through Everett on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Grinding work still needed for I-5 through Everett

Construction crews need warmer temps for the work to remove what a reader described as “mini raised speed bumps.”

After a day of learning to fight fires, Snohomish firefighter recruit Chau Nguyen flakes a hose as other recruits load the hoses onto a fire truck April 19, 2018, at the training facility on S. Machias Rd. in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)
Lawsuit: Everett firefighter sexually harassed numerous recruits

Chau Nguyen resigned earlier this year, long after the first complaint about his behavior at the county’s fire training academy.

Pilchuck Secret Valley Tree Farm owner Paul Dierck walks through a row of trees on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Christmas trees, a Washington cash crop, get a little more spendy

Christmas tree farms generate about $688,000 each season for Snohomish County farmers. Some are still open for business.

Marysville
Marysville to pay $1M to another former student for alleged sex abuse

The latest settlement marks the earliest known allegations against Kurt Hollstein, who worked in the district until last year.

Mike Rosen
Businessman Mike Rosen announces campaign for mayor of Edmonds

Rosen, a city planning board member, is backed by five former Edmonds mayors. It’s unclear if incumbent Mike Nelson will run again.

The Everett Police Department was investigating a woman's death Sunday morning after a driver hit and killed her on Broadway in north Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Woman killed by suspected impaired driver in Everett

A driver reportedly hit the person, which prompted the closure of Broadway between 17th and 19th streets Sunday morning.

Ty Juvinel stands beside the towering welcome figure that he created for the Edmonds Waterfront Center on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘Our heritage is a gift’: 500-year-old log is carved into Tulalip welcome

The wooden figure represents matriarchs who “can see the potential you have that you don’t know yet,” explained artist Ty Juvinel.

Most Read