The Enid M. Baa Public Library and Archives on St. Thomas may see new life in upcoming years thanks to hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated $705,527 to complete repairs and replace damaged contents, the Office of Disaster Recovery announced this week. To preserve and replenish historical documents and other literature, materials will either be stabilized, restored or replaced, using this money.
The three-story building, distinguished by its yellow brick exterior is located on Dronningens Gade in Charlotte Amalie, was the main St. Thomas public library prior to the opening of the Charles W. Turnbull Library in 2012. It was closed for a time, then the Legislature mandated the upper floors be made archives in 2014. There was no funding at first, but in 2015, the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs provided $480,000 for the work.
During the 2017 hurricanes, the library and its contents were damaged when hurricane-force winds and wind-driven rain leaked into all three levels of the building. The obligation covers roof and interior and exterior repairs to the Children’s, IT, and Archive rooms in addition to several other spaces on site, according to a release from the Office of Disaster Recovery.
“This funding is crucial as we look to reopen this landmark facility and bring new interest to the western end of Main Street,” Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol said in the release.
Boschulte Architecture has reportedly begun the necessary design work for the project and anticipates completion this October. A construction solicitation will be issued in November to secure a contract to start repairs by March 2022 and finish by November 2022.
“So far, $5.7 million of FEMA Public Assistance funding has been obligated to DPNR for the restoration of public libraries across the territory,” said Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien. She said all the libraries should be completed by January 2023.