New life given to Cleveland Public Library’s 95-year-old West Park branch

Cleveland Public Library (CPL) officials and community members celebrated the renovations and improvements to the CPL West Park branch this past Saturday, Jan. 7 with grand re-opening festivities in the 95-year-old English Tudor building at 3805 W. 157th St. in Kamm’s Corners.

<span class="content-image-text">West Park Campus of Cleveland Public Library</span>West Park Campus of Cleveland Public LibraryThe 14,400-square-foot building was designed and built by renowned architecture firm Walker and Weeks in 1928, and closed in April for needed restoration, renovation, and modernization, says CPL chief operations officer John Lang. He says the project is part of CPL’s 10-year Our Future is Building capital campaign to renovate or build entirely new buildings at all 26 CPL branches.

“That was a third project we've opened, and definitely the largest crowd we had,” Lang says, estimating between 400 and 500 people came to Saturday’s event. “I happened to get a text this morning from the branch saying people were lined up when the doors opened at 10 a.m. to get in. So, we're really happy with it.”

Work on the library included restoring the original vaulted ceiling and dormers—filling the interior with natural light—and restoring the original slate roof.

“The main reading room in the historic portion of the building has a beautiful, vaulted ceiling— full height up to the slate roof that was encapsulated with a lay-in ceiling in the late 70s, early 80s,” says Lang. “To be able to pull that grid out and restore that almost cathedral-esque feel of the main section of the library was great…. We got 95 years out of the last slate roof system, and we hope you get 95 years out of the new slate roof.”

Lang adds that there was a lot of deferred maintenance and updates that had to be done. “We have brand new HVAC, modern building controls with fire protection, of course; [and] life safety,” he says. “And then we have some of the amenities that we put into the building in terms of the new community spaces and just really refreshing the building.”

Those amenities include the renovated reading room with new computers; a revamped lower level with teen and children’s areas and installation of an elevator for ADA access; the reopening of the original West 157th Street entrance for better pedestrian access; the creation of flexible spaces with additional meeting rooms; new staff area; and book lockers for after-hours access to materials in a new vestibule.

The Our Future in Building campaign is divided into two five-year consecutive groups of building renovations and construction—with 11 projects in group one, culminating with the Walsh branch and ending in 2024. The remains 15 branches in group two will launch in 2025.

The West Park branch project marks the third ribbon cutting in group one, with renovations to the Jefferson branch in Tremont and a new building in Hough having already been completed in group one.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.