Historic skylight restored at PCPL

Thursday, July 22, 2021
Workers for Camden Stained Glass reinstall the skylight in the Carnegie wing of the Putnam County Public Library recently. The Indianapolis-based firm repaired damage to the glass and its lead framework.
Courtesy Camden Stained Glass

The Putnam County Public Library recently announced the restoration of its century-old skylight in the historic Carnegie building. This was undertaken in a spirit of recognizing the 25th anniversary of the addition to the library in 1996.

The skylight was re-lit earlier this year. However, library staff noticed a large amount of damage to the stained glass and lead framework that make up the skylight.

At that time, Director Matt McClelland and archivist Anthony Barger began the process of finding craftsmen to repair the skylight. Camden Stained Glass was then selected to carry out the restoration.

“We chose Camden Stained Glass, not only because they provided us with a good quote, but also for their sincere interest in the project,” Barger said. “Camden’s passion and pride for their work was clearly evident. The whole team was impressive and I am confident we picked the right people for the project.”

Camden surveyed the library’s skylight and removed the panels to be repaired and cleaned at their shop in Indianapolis in June. The glass was recently returned to the library and reinstalled.

The restoration of the skylight comes in conjunction with the library’s upcoming celebration of the library addition’s 25th anniversary on Saturday, July 31.

It became clear in the early 1980s that the public was needing more room and services than the library could provide. Many proposals were suggested, such as moving the library downtown, until the idea of adding to the current library was settled upon.

Ground was finally broken in 1995 and the addition was completed the following year in September 1996. The addition provided an extra 18,000 square feet. With this surplus room, the library staff were able to provide many new or expanded services which patrons still have today.

“One of the things I most appreciate about the huge undertaking of the 1996 library expansion was that (former) Director Ellen Sedlack, the Library Board and supporters chose to incorporate the historic Carnegie portion of the library into the renovation instead of demolishing it,” said McClelland. “As we celebrate their accomplishments, it now falls on us to preserve and protect irreplaceable portions of the library.”

“Matt’s decision to repair the skylight was perfect timing as we are preparing for the 25th anniversary of the addition, which I see as a celebration of our county’s commitment to maintaining the wonderful community we enjoy,” Barger added.

The restoration of the skylight was made possible by individual donors who gave via the library’s Facebook fundraiser in June and donations to its gift fund, as well as the Dr. James Elrod Fund at the Hendricks County Community Foundation.

The library will host its celebration of the expansion on July 31 from 3-7 p.m. with food and games, as well as vendors and a bounce house. The event will be free to the public. The library will also accept donations toward replenishing its gift fund after the cost of the restoration.

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