Snohomish group hopes to restore historic Carnegie building

SNOHOMISH — As a teenage girl, she spent every afternoon in the Carnegie Library in Snohomish.

Candace Jarrett, 73, remembers where the Black Stallion books were kept on the shelves. She would sit outside on a bench under a cherry tree and read.

Earlier this month, the historic Carnegie building was closed due to a leaky roof after more than a century in the community.

The chronic leak has been ongoing for at least a decade, Snohomish City Manager Larry Bauman said. An initial inspection showed the water damage was worse than city officials expected.

The section of troublesome roofing covers an annex that was added to the front of the Carnegie building in 1968, which included a lobby and small meeting space. The roof is flat and prone to leaks, Bauman said. However, the main building constructed in 1910 was not damaged.

Contractors were hoping to add roofing material to block the leaks. They quickly realized water had already soaked through the layers of roofing. A bottom layer was acting like a sponge, Bauman said. The soggy material was about an inch and a half thick, he said. Water had begun dripping inside and pooling on the concrete floor.

At this point, the city is uncertain how extensive the damage is. It is possible water has seeped into the electrical system, Bauman said.

The replacement of the roof, as well as the structural repairs, could cost between $50,000 to $100,000, Bauman estimated.

The Carnegie building along Cedar Avenue is one of the 33 remaining in the state, according to the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation. Snohomish was a small logging town when construction began, Jarrett said. There wasn’t much of a farming community yet, because trees stood where today’s fields are. The building served as the city’s library until 2003, according to the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation.

The foundation, in partnership with the city, has been working on blueprints to remodel and restore the building, turning it into an education center. In the process, the annex would be removed. Foundation members hope to host science and art exhibits at the center, as well as community groups. They also drew up plans to add a stage area for musical and theater groups, a parking lot that can be used for markets and celebrations, and a grassy lot.

The city has not received funding for the remodel. In 2011, the cost estimate was about $3.3 million, Bauman said. Snohomish City Council members endorsed the idea to remove the annex, and instead, restore a grand staircase that originally led up to the front door.

Since the annex is slated to be removed, the city is struggling to find people willing to invest in the annex roof repairs, Bauman said.

In the meantime, he is compiling a list of options and cost estimates, which he plans to present to the City Council this year.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192;

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