Mayor Vincent C. Gray and City Leaders Cut Ribbon on Renovated Mt. Pleasant Library

$11.2 Million Project Renovated, Modernized, Expanded & Preserved Historic Carnegie Building

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray today joined Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells and D.C. Public Library Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper in cutting the ribbon on a renovated and modernized Mt. Pleasant Library. The historic library has been expanded to support modern uses and to highlight architectural and artistic elements of the building – one of the District’s oldest public libraries.

Between 1883 and 1929, more than 2,500 libraries across the United States and around the world were built with funds provided by famous Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The Mt. Pleasant Library, opened in 1925, was a Carnegie-funded library.

“As Mayor, I have been delighted to open the new Francis A. Gregory, Tenley, William O. Lockridge/Bellevue and Petworth libraries,” said Mayor Gray. “Now I am pleased that this historic library has been preserved and updated for modern use, benefitting of the residents of the Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights communities. Mr. Carnegie would be proud that his legacy of learning and community service lives on in this beautiful building.”

“With every historic library we improve, we discover some hidden gem that we can’t wait to showcase,” said Cooper. “This library is no exception. Not only have we improved the service that we can provide to library users in this building, but we have enhanced the original library’s design and found a way to celebrate a Washington artist.”

Located at 3160 16th Street NW, the Mt. Pleasant Library is third-oldest operating public library in the District. New York architect Edward L. Tilton designed the original Italian Renaissance-style building. Unlike many structures that were only faced with limestone during that period, Tilton used limestone on all sides of the Mt. Pleasant building. The library’s new rear addition shows off this detail by creating an atrium that turns the rear of the original building into a limestone wall. In addition, mechanical and staff areas were moved to the addition, allowing the public to enjoy more of the original library structure.

The library’s second floor features a larger area for children's books and storytimes. It also highlights the work of Washington artist and famous children’s illustrator Aurelius Battaglia. Best known for his work on the Walt Disney Studios films “Dumbo,” “Fantasia,” and “Pinocchio,” the Public Works of Art Project commissioned Battaglia to paint the murals in the children’s section. While the murals have been in the library since 1934, the new floor plan makes them a focal point.

The $11.2 million renovation began in April, 2010. The project included improved lighting; a new layout; replications of furniture from the original structure; and upgraded electrical and HVAC systems. The renovated library opens with 50,000 books, CDs, DVDs and other library materials and with space to hold 80,000 total items. It also contains 40 public-access computers and free Wi-Fi Internet access, a large meeting room for up to 100 people, and two conference rooms for up to 14 people.

The library renovation was designed by the District-based firm Core Architects. Smoot Construction managed the project with a Certified Business Enterprise participation rate of 57 percent.

On Sat., Sept. 15, the Mt. Pleasant Library will host a grand-opening party from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.