Noe Valley Voice November 2008

Noe Library Wins State Preservation Award

By Heather World and Corrie M. Anders

The Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library, which reopened in March after a two-year $5.7 million renovation and seismic retrofit, has won a major honor for the historic preservation of its 1916 Beaux Arts building.

The California State Parks' Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) will present its Governor's Historic Preservation Award for Excellence to library representatives at a Nov. 21 ceremony in Sacramento. The Noe Valley Library is one of 11 projects to be lauded statewide.

"I'm quite happy about it," said branch manager Alice McCloud, who learned the good news last month in an e-mail from state officials. She also applauded "the Noe Valley community [which] worked hard to put forth the nomination" for the award.

San Francisco architect Alice Carey, who designed the renovations of the two-story building, said she was delighted that her firm's work had been recognized.

"It's a very charming library," Carey said. "It was a pleasure to preserve what was there."

The original library was one of many funded by Andrew Carnegie, a 19th-century steel magnate. Carey noted that in the early years of the 20th century, "they wanted to make sure that one librarian could oversee the whole library, which is why you have one big room [at 451 Jersey Street]." In her restoration, Carey preserved the main space by putting new elements, such as an elevator, on the back of the building.

Other renovations included new lighting, accessible bathrooms, hundreds of new books, a community room, and restored woodwork and fixtures.

In addition to the architectural firm Carey & Co., the state praised the efforts of Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (specifically the Noe Valley Library Campaign), which raised more than $200,000 in private funds to supplement public funds; the residents group Friends of Noe Valley; and various agencies of the City and County of San Francisco.

"The wonderfully restored Noe Valley Library looks today almost exactly as it did in 1916," said Stephen Mikesell, a deputy state historic preservation officer.