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West Chester Public Library

West Chester Public Library"Selected for a Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award in recognition of the meticulous restoration of the building while successfully addressing the need for more usable interior space."

Owner/Developer: West Chester Public Library, Borough of West Chester

Architect: Frens & Frens

August 24, 2011

West Chester, PA -- In 1815, the first Library Company was formed in West Chester to collect books that were loaned from shelves placed in local businesses. By 1872, that effort was re-organized into the West Chester Public Library. With strong community support, capital was raised for a permanent building to be used exclusively as a library. The outcome was a structure designed by T. Roney Williamson and constructed in 1888 at 415 North Church Street. Its Queen Anne architecture makes it one of West Chester's most impressive public buildings. It contains five windows of Tiffany-style glass each illustrating a quote from a story by Bayard Taylor (1825-1878), a Chester County native and noted poet, literary critic, translator, and travel author.

By 2000, it was clear that the library structure would need to expand to meet the needs of the community. It was agreed that a renovation and expansion of the current facility was preferable over relocating the library and a Friends of the Library group was formed to raise funds in partnership with the West Chester LLC.

In 2005, the $2.3-million renovation of the West Chester Public Library was completed, doubling the usable space without disturbing the historic features of this remarkable structure.

Today, the West Chester Public Library receives over 100,000 visits and circulates over 150,000 items per year from an expanded collection of over 55,000 items. New media, such as internet access and digital and electronic materials have been expanded to meet contemporary needs and presentation events are a regular part of the library's programs.



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