Adding something new to something old to the Jamaica Plain Branch Library has been a wild success, aside from the Copley Square main branch, it is most used library in Boston. And recently the Boston Preservation Alliance honored the South Street branch for its renovations.
"On this, the 40th Anniversary of the Alliance and the 30th year we've awarded projects, an emphasis on neighborhoods which percolated up from our nominees collectively exemplify what is central to Boston's success: historic places working in harmony with new construction throughout the city's neighborhoods," says Boston Preservation Alliance's website about the awards.
Renovations of the library originally built in 1911 starting in 2015 and the library reopened May 2017.
The Boston Preservation Alliance described how the renovations successfully mixed the new with the old:
The new addition reinstated a prominent entry sequence to the library, but the rest of the building needed a major update as well and this was completed with the utmost sympathy to its history. The renovated interior preserves its original features, such as fireplaces, wooden trim and bookcases, and large windows. The designers even created a custom wallpaper for the children’s room with a subtle print of silhouettes of characters by local authors. There is a new space for teens in an area converted from underutilized space in the balcony and a sweet, little new patio for outdoor reading and relaxation. The library now better serves the community while bringing its historic character and charm to both new young readers and former children’s section visitors.
“Public buildings play a critical role in neighborhood success, and this is nowhere more apparent than in a library. But transforming a small, historic library into a vibrant central node for community faces many challenges," said Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. "Here a tiny lot for expansion, a charming (aka small) building, and a more dominant, historic community treasure adjacent required threading a lot of needles. Layer on today's program needs and success is miraculous. Here in JP the historic train-station-like 1909 library has been sensitively rehabilitated and joined with a sympathetic, modern new partner, a duo that will serve the city well for future generations."