The Jamaica Plain branch of the Boston Public Library opened in 1911; that same year, on Sept. 25, ground was broken at Fenway Park. On Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, city and library officials and members of the JP community gathered to break ground on a long-awaited renovation to the JP branch building.
“This is an exciting day for Jamaica Plain. I know there’s a lot of passion about this library,” said Mayor Marty Walsh, recounting his second visit to JP, when members of the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library “grabbed me to talk to me about the library.”
“Our building renovation projects give us a chance not just to renovate, but to refresh and renew our services,” said David Leonard, interim president of the Boston Public Library, noting, to laughter, that the building was renovated “as recently as 1936.”
The $10 million renovation will provide more than a 20% increase in space, including a 700-square-foot addition facing South Street that will serve as a reading room, and a terrace along Sedgwick Street. It will also add an elevator to improve accessibility, enhance meeting spaces, and provide 15 new desktop and 20 laptop computers, free WiFi, and a dedicated “maker space” with a 3-D printer.
If construction proceeds as scheduled, the library will reopen in the spring or summer of 2017. The general contractor for the project is Colantonio Inc.
The path to this renovation was a long one, said Don Haber, co-chairman of the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library, and he is “thrilled to see this renovation become a reality.” District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley credited the hardworking community members who had been working toward the renovation for more than a decade. John Hailer, interim chairman of the BPL Board of Trustees, affirmed that “this neighborhood has changed dramatically, and now this library will transform with the neighborhood.”
Following the ceremony amid groundbreaking, Walsh read construction-themed stories to children on the lawn outside Curtis Hall.
The JP branch has been one of the busiest in the city, with 95,000 visitors last year, according to Michael Colford, the BPL’s director of services. During the construction, residents are encouraged to use the Connolly Branch located at 433 Centre St., and the Egleston Square Branch at 2044 Columbus Ave., which have already seen an uptick in visitors, Colford said.
See below for photos from the ceremony and groundbreaking.