All of the library’s 150+ original windows are in the process of being restored. The first windows are being removed today, Wednesday, May 22. They will be removed in batches, approximately 20 windows at a time, starting in Arts & Music. The windows will be refurbished off site, and then returned in about 3 weeks, when the next batch of windows will be removed. The windows with storms will be taped closed with the storms in place. There are a few windows without storms, and those will be temporarily boarded up.

The project is being funded by a combination of capital funds from the City of Northampton and $100,000 in Community Preservation Act funds with a total cost for the project of $587,041. Jones Whitsett Architects out of Greenfield is overseeing the project and Renaissance Builders out of Turners Falls, MA is the general contractor. The work is expected to be complete before the end of the year and involves removing the windows temporarily and re-sealing them along with the empty air cavities behind the frames. Once they are fully renovated they will be returned and interior storms will be added where necessary. All of the woodwork will be restored and repainted.

Exterior work on the library was started in 2005 as an ambitious plan to completely secure the building envelope. Two of the Forbes Library building’s four elevations were cleaned, repaired, and repointed in city-funded projects completed in 2006. With a substantial investment of $1,000,000 in Community Preservation Funds the two remaining elevations and the roof were repaired and rebuilt in 2009. These funds along with substantial contributions by the City of Northampton, grants and many individual gifts demonstrate the commitment and admiration of the community to the building. The final piece required for a full exterior restoration is to renovate the windows, a project that was recently funded. Window restoration will preserve the investment already made in the masonry, conserve energy, protect historic collections and make the interior more comfortable for visitors.

“Our dear historic building is getting the finishing touches on its makeover during its 125th year and we couldn’t be more pleased and grateful,” said Lisa Downing, library director. The approach to the work has been endorsed by the Northampton Historical Commission. The commission’s chairperson David Drake commented, “The Library, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an architecturally significant building within downtown, and houses the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, as well as the Hampshire Room for Local History which contains extensive resources in local history. Repairing the original windows will secure the building envelope and protect the invaluable collections inside, while preserving the historic character of this important building.”