By Dylan Deprey
In 1889, the Lion Store department store thrived on the corner of what is now Historic Mitchell Ave. and 10th St. A fire destroyed the building but like the mythological phoenix rising from the ashes another department store filled its space when the it was rebuilt in 1919.
As of today the empty showroom floor is being refilled again, not with jewelry cases but with bookshelves.
Right next door from the abandoned storefront, the community voiced their opinions on the recent renderings of the new Forest Home Library, during a community meeting on July 20, in the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center.
Forest Home Library is only taking a slight move up the street from its original location on Forest Homes Ave. a couple blocks to W. Historic Mitchell St.
“We’ll be moving into the heart of Historic Mitchell District,” said HGA Architect Kevin Allebach. “We are excited to engage the library to connect the community and the neighborhood.”
Planning for the library started in March 2016. The community answered questions via post-it notes on a giant poster about what they wanted from their new library. Members were also asked to do the same during this meeting to provide any comments, concerns, or other ideas about the project.
Paula Kiely is the City Librarian and has helped lead the project. She noted that along with the standard library necessities, it was important for the community to have a huge say in the creative process to help create a space that emphasized the communities’ needs.
“Even though we had ideas, we made sure we were hitting on things that the people cared about,” Kiely said.
The renderings displayed bright colors of teal, burnt orange, and berry. The library will follow in its predecessor in keeping the open store concept by having windows surrounding the entire first floor. There were sections broken off for children, adults and even an edgier more secluded area for teens. A mezzanine from the original store that overlooks the entire room will be utilized as a place for reading or a quiet study area. There is also cushioned bleacher seating following the stairs from the first floor to the Mezzanine, to provide a different kind of library experience.
In keeping true to the true “Historic” part of Historic Mitchell Ave., the building will utilize and restore many parts of the original building. Underneath what is now raggedy carpet and masses of glue is a pristine Terrazzo floor. The design also includes keeping and restoring the columns, pendant lighting and plastered white ceilings to give it that old store feeling.
As the public library is ever evolving from the days of pure silence and studying, the new library will also feature a “Maker’s Space,” in the basement for demonstrations or classes. This work area includes alcoves with private workstations for group work.
Although libraries have evolved into more social work spaces, the tradition of being quiet is still a firm expectation. With more activates happening throughout the building, the entire library ceiling will be sprayed with acoustic foam to sound proof the building.
As of right now demolition is happening in the libraries new location, but the library construction will not start until around Fall 2016 and opened Summer of 2017.
Alderman Jose Pérez noted that the new library and Ignace Indian Health Center was just the first of many renovations for the Historic Mitchell District.
“This is a piece of sterling silver that was just a little dull, so we’re shining it up again so that it can shine bright here in the city and district,” Pérez said.