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Bids being taken for Carnegie building annex demolition

Bids are due Oct. 10 for the demolition of the front portion of the building on 105 Cedar Ave. in Snohomish. The blocky front addition will be removed in the coming months and the structure built in 1910 will be restored.

SNOHOMISH — The city is preparing to demolish part of the Carnegie building downtown, fulfilling a plan to restore the site to its original 1910 footprint.
The demolition takes out a wing at the former library which was attached in 1968 to enlarge the building at 105 Cedar Ave. The teardown could begin sometime between November and early January, city administrator Steve Schuller said.
Contractors had two shots to be eligible to win the demolition contract at mandatory pre-bid meetings. About 25 potential bidders showed up to the first pre-bid meeting last week, and more were anticipated for the second pre-bid meeting scheduled for Monday after press time.
The City Council is expected to select a contractor at its Oct. 15 meeting, Schuller said.
The full project of demolition of the 1968 portion and renovation of the Carnegie side is estimated at $1.5 to $2 million, Schuller said. Renovation comes after an extensive public process that started in 2017 after roof damage led to safety concerns that closed the building to the public.
State grants will pay for $1 million for the project “through the efforts of our state legislators, Sen. Steve Hobbs, Rep. John Lovick and Rep. Jared Mead,” Schuller said.  
The building hosts two architectural styles: one being a vintage 1910 Classic Revival, and the second is a blocky, brick 1968 addition.
The original 1910 site was built during the Carnegie public library movement that began in late 1800s, which ended in 1919 with construction of 1,689 public libraries in the United States. An additional 180 academic libraries from the late 1880s to 1919 were built under this movement.
Snohomish’s Carnegie is in a historic district, a location that led to cooperation with the state’s Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation to assure proper treatment of the preservable section, Schuller said.
“We’re trying to make it as original as possible,” Schuller said.
The project will include original lighting fixtures and wood doors and restore the architectural state common to Carnegie buildings nationwide. The original woodwork for the doorway will be retained, Schuller said, and the tilework on the outside may be restored as well. But, he said, “we won’t know what to expect until we get into it.”
Other work puts in modern bathrooms, wheelchair accessibility and a new heating and ventilation system, Schuller said.
Once the demolition is complete, plans will resume to restore the remaining structure. Schuller said the building will eventually earn the city money by being rented out for weddings and other events.
Many Carnegie libraries have been torn down. Washington state tallied 44 in the year 1920.
Leah McNatt, co-owner of UpperCase Books, said she is pleased to see renovation plans go forward.
“It will feel historic,” she said, noting that when she first saw the building, she felt its 1960s-portion looked mismatched.  
The renovation protects a tie to a historical figure referred to in historical references as “the father of philathropy.” Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant and son of two working parents — one a weaver and the other a seamstress for shoemakers. He made his first fortune in his 30s then amassed even more in the steel industry. By the time of his death in 1919 he had given away more than $350 million.
Carnegie’s funds built half the public libraries in the United States. He died of pneumonia at the age of 83.
His purpose in building libraries for the public was to connect those of modest means with the machinations of democracy and the tools for success, according to the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The organization formed in his honor quotes him once saying, “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”



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