The beginnings of a newly painted Saunders House are visible on Middle Street.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Corporation owns and cares for the land and buildings in which the City of Gloucester operates the Lyceum and the Library. Our unique partnership has been strengthened over the past year by the resolve of the Board of Directors, a group chosen from among Corporators, to stabilize the buildings and stop the deterioration that had gone on for too many years. One can see the results that resolve has wrought on the historic Saunders House and the grounds around it.
GLOUCESTER LYCEUM AND SAWYER FREE LIBRARY
Thanks to Tom Byers and Linda Bosselman there are photos showing the work at www.sawyerfreelibrary.org
There are several people who were responsible for the hard work to revitalize our beautiful Middle Street mansion. First, Sara Harper of Design Technique Inc., who acted as Project Manager and Owner’s Representative, overseeing all the work. Sara kept us up to date on every detail so that decisions could be made quickly and based on the right information. Next Stephen Goodick, of W. Herbert Goodick, Inc. who was responsible for all the carpentry and acting as general contractor for the whole operation. I will never forget talking with Steve one day and thanking him for his careful work on our special building. He gestured at the house and said, “ This is why I am a carpenter.”
When Stephen and his crew had done their renewal and repair, Michael DeFalco and his people scraped centuries of old paint off the clapboards and rusticated planks of the front of the house and primed and painted the whole thing. Mike fixed all the windows, also suggested the color scheme to our design subcommittee, which has garnered almost universal approval.
Last, but very much not least, is Hilarie Holdsworth, of Walker Creek Landscape design who has completely transformed the Middle Street and Dale Avenue lawns with hardy and beautiful plantings, not to mention her elegant design for the new front walk, executed by Rockwood Masonry. We also want to thank Corliss Brothers for their discounts in donation to the project. What you see now is the fruit of hiring local companies who care about their City and their Library; I cannot imagine a way we could have gotten a better job.
The work on the Saunders House exterior is all but done, but the Board plans to continue stabilizing and improving all the buildings. To that end, the Main Building and the Stack Wing have been surveyed so that Requests for Proposals may be sent out to contractors for bids on the work. This work will be funded by major gifts we have received from several individuals and by money from the Capital Campaign, much of which I know came from the Corporators. Anyone who has given a lot or a little can take pride in bringing the Library back to its rightful place as one of the jewels of the city.
If one looks around the city one can see other signs of rebirth and restoration. Our neighbors next door at the Temple are going forward with their rebuilding and will be showing their final design to the public this week. The top section of the City Hall tower is giving us a hint of what the whole building could be like if the funds can be found to complete the job. The Cape Ann Museum has rebuilt the Ellery House at Grant Circle, and the Maritime Heritage Center has created a wonderful resource at Harbor Loop. The Garden Club, the Rotary Club, the Block Party Group and the Chamber of Commerce have all pitched in in major ways to spruce up and beautify the city, making it a better place to live and a better place to visit.
All these groups share one thing in common, they are funded by private individuals who have recognized that it is not fruitful to sit back and wait for government to fix what ails us. Local government has been hamstrung by tax limits like Proposition 2 ½, which leave no room for funding capital improvements. Even though the DPW is working hard, without private action, things deteriorate, and then the same people who voted for draconian tax limits blame public servants. It is a no-win situation. We can only improve it by volunteering to help, as all of you have done by becoming corporators. I urge you to join the Friends of the Library, and to participate in the annual appeal, but I also urge you to volunteer in other parts of your lives. It is the only way that we can actively improve the quality of life around us. “Volunteers are unpaid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”. There are so many ways to help, and it can be so rewarding.
Although I have already been President for two years, I will put my name in front of the Board to continue for another. I feel there is still much to do that I may be suited for. I would like to see the process of stabilizing all the buildings through to the end. We are still exploring the possibility of a collaboration with some of our neighbors on parking. We may even be able to entertain the idea of an addition, smaller than the one we pursued a few years ago, but still able to increase space in the Children’s Library, offer a room for the Lyceum and meetings such as this, and modernize the behind-the-scenes workspace for staff which would allow the Historic Saunders House to be open to the public once again
President of the Board