Adopt an orphan cabinet, preserve local history

More than 7,000 square feet of Solvay Public Library may be new, but many of the shelves, cabinets and wooden details are not.

Salvaged from Hazard School before the school's demolition, many wooden features from the school found a new home at the library. Now, the library is reaching out to the public to help restore and refinish the pieces so that they may enjoy a new incarnation at the library.

The library is promoting 'Adopt a Solvay Heirloom,' a donation program through which community members could adopt a piece of furniture by donating a portion of the cost needed to restore the piece.

Cara Burton, library director, said the library opted to refinish the salvaged pieces to preserve community history. Many residents were upset Hazard was demolished, said Burton, and rescuing these pieces was an opportunity to protect local history.

It ended up that it is also cheaper, Burton said. I got a quote for a new double-sided wood shelf which came to $1,000 more than what it cost to refinish and modify an antique hutch from the school.

The library came to acquire the furniture through the State Historical Preservation Office, (SHPO), which required the school district to allow a local not-for-profit organization to salvage what they could from the building before going to auction, Burton said.

The salvage saved us thousands of dollars, she added.

Six transom doors, previously stationed at the ends of hallways in Hazard School, and windows from the school were also salvaged and incorporated directly into the design of the library.

Burton said the SHPO regards the library as unique because of the use of these features, which allow substantial natural light into the building. She said the library has since been accepted to the National Register of Historical Places.

The adoption program offers community members an opportunity to support the library with a visible memorial, dedication or anniversary recognition. Each finished piece will include a small plaque designating the donation.

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