The Administrative Services Committee will discuss the renovation of the historic Appleby Library located at 2260 Walton Way at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
The discussion will include whether to keep the library as part of the Augusta Richmond County Public Library System or whether turn it over to the community for operation and restoration.
District 3 Commissioner Catherine McKnight says that she doesn’t expect any immediate action, but she feels the commission should discuss the future of the Summerville icon.
“The building needs serious structural repair. It needs a new roof, and it needs to be brought into ADA compliance,” McKnight said.
To conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the building would need to be fitted with an elevator for access to the second floor, which City Administrator Odie Donald told commissioners, according to McKnight, could cost as much as $400,000.
“I honestly don’t know where he came up with that figure, but that is what he said,” McKnight said.
On Nov.16, 2021, the commission voted to allocate $62,306.50 to CGS Waterproofing of Norcross, Ga., to replace the roof on the library and also voted for a memorandum of understanding that the Public Library System reimburse half the cost of $31,153.25.
McKnight says she is concerned that the work on the roof has not commenced several months after the project received approval by the commission.
The Augusta Procurement Department staff verified that the bid from CGS Waterproofing was approved, but that no further filings have been made regarding the roofing project.
McKnight says that she does not know if somehow the memorandum of understanding was never enacted or exactly why the roof replacement has been delayed.
The Public Library System board chair, Christopher Mullins, could not be reached for comment.
“All I know is that we have a building that is almost 200 years old, and it needs to be maintained. If the city cannot maintain it, then we need to discuss handing the building over to people who can,” McKnight said. “That building means too much to the community for the city to just let it start falling apart.”
The Appleby Library started its life in 1830 as a summer residence for Judge Benjamin Holmes Warren (1797-1870). Over the years, several former Augusta mayor’s and their families called the Antebellum building home.
The Greek Revival two-story structure was donated by the Appleby family in 1954 to the city of Augusta to be used as a library.
Unlike many centuries old buildings in Augusta, the exterior of the building remains almost exactly the same as it was first designed, with the rear facade changed and updated in the early 20th century by noted Augusta architect Henry T.E. Wendell, according to the National Parks Service.
In other commission news, the Administrative Services Committee will also vote to set the rates for qualifying in this year’s elections as required by state law.
Qualifying for state judge is expected to be $4,970, civil and magistrate court $4,200, Augusta mayor $1,950, commission $360 and board of education $100.
Three judgeships, the mayor’s seat, five commission seats and five board of education seats are open this year, according to Board of Elections Director Travis Doss.