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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Library’s exterior work nearly completed


The two marble lions that greet patrons to the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library haven’t looked better in years.

After a $272,000 restoration project, the marble lions look almost new. The grime and wear and tear of more than 100 years is gone.

For the past nearly five months, crews have been restoring the bowl-shaped stone fountains in front of the library, the lions, the front steps, walkway and fence and the building’s facade.

Contractor Raymond E. Kelley Inc., Seneca Falls, told city officials the project on the Washington Street landmark should be finished in about three weeks.

The restoration has been a pet project of the Watertown City Council for years.

The two 107-year-old bowl-shaped fountains had to be replaced because they were crumbling and no longer could be repaired. Clear plastic tarp now covers them until the cement hardens in the north country’s low autumn temperatures.

The new fountains will be similar to what the old ones were like when library benefactor Emma Flower Taylor had them installed in 1906, two years after the library opened. They also will have a new waterline and spray mechanisms.

Last week, Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns wondered whether the greenish color on the building’s marble facade also will be removed.

Unfortunately, said city Planning and Community Development Coordinator Kenneth A. Mix, it was too big a job to remove all the dust, dirt and algae that collected in the porous marble over the years. He said he hopes building and grounds maintenance crews can work on removing some of the grime “a little at a time.”

“It won’t glisten,” Mr. Mix said. “They used six coats of cleaner to get the lions to look white.”

Repairs to the front steps and cracked facade ended up being bigger jobs than expected, Mr. Mix said. The steps were in rough shape. And workers had to repoint along the building’s exterior face of the cornice and parapet, he said.

Because of that, the council was forced to approve two change orders costing a total of $4,636.

Council members had hoped to have the project completed last year, but it had to be delayed after the city received no bids. This year, the Seneca Falls firm and three others submitted bids.

Earlier in the year, the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment were upgraded at a cost of $511,808. That work was done by Hyde-Stone Mechanical Contractors Inc., Watertown.

The city also completed interior renovations several years ago.

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